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Immunology. 1995 Apr;84(4):505-8.

Antigen-presenting cells in the female reproductive tract: influence of sex hormones on antigen presentation in the vagina.

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Department of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756-0001, USA.


We report here that the stage of the reproductive cycle and the administration of physiological amounts of oestradiol to ovariectomized rats influences antigen presentation by macrophage/dendritic cells in the vagina. Antigen presentation is elevated when oestradiol levels in blood are low, and reduced just prior to ovulation. Of those hormones tested, only oestradiol lowered vaginal antigen presentation. When progesterone was given along with oestradiol, the inhibitory effect of oestradiol on vaginal antigen presentation was reversed. These studies demonstrate that the vagina is an inductive site and that antigen presentation is under hormonal control. Our results suggest that immunization studies designed to enhance mucosal immunity in the female reproductive tract should take into account the stage of the reproductive cycle when antigen is deposited.

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