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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2007 Apr;292(4):L908-14. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Male sex hormones promote vagally mediated reflex airway responsiveness to cholinergic stimulation.

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1
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 111 T.W. Alexander Dr., Bldg. 101, Rm. D236, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.

Abstract

A sex disparity in airway responsiveness to cholinergic stimulation has been observed in laboratory mice in that males are considerably more responsive than females, but the basis for this difference is unclear. In this report, we demonstrate that male sex hormones promote murine airway responsiveness to cholinergic stimulation via vagus nerve-mediated reflex mechanisms. In tissue bath preparations, no sex-based differences were observed in the contractile responses of isolated tracheal and bronchial ring segments to carbachol, indicating that the mechanism(s) responsible for the in vivo sex difference is (are) absent ex vivo. Bilateral cervical vagotomy was found to abolish in vivo airway responsiveness to methacholine in male mice, whereas it did not alter the responses of females, suggesting a regulatory role for male sex hormones in promoting reflex airway constriction. To test this possibility, we next studied mice with altered circulating male sex hormone levels. Castrated male mice displayed airway responsiveness equivalent to that observed in intact females, whereas administration of exogenous testosterone to castrated males restored responsiveness, albeit not to the level observed in intact males. Administration of exogenous testosterone to intact female mice similarly enhanced responsiveness. Importantly, the promotive effects of exogenous testosterone in castrated male and intact female mice were absent when bilateral vagotomy was performed. Together, these data indicate that male sex hormones promote cholinergic airway responsiveness via a vagally mediated reflex mechanism that may be important in the regulation of airway tone in the normal and diseased lung.

PMID:
17158599
PMCID:
PMC2066189
DOI:
10.1152/ajplung.00407.2006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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