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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1993 Mar-Apr;11(2):157-62.

Effect of gonadal steroids on the production of IL-1 and IL-6 by blood mononuclear cells in vitro.

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Department of Rheumatology, University of Sydney, Australia.


Sex hormones have profound effects on immune responses and may influence the outcome of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We investigated the effect of gonadal steroids on the production of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-6, cytokines believed to be important in the pathogenesis of RA. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from healthy male donors and male patients with RA, and were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the presence of different concentrations of 17-beta-estradiol, progesterone or testosterone. In studies of cells from normal male donors, 17-beta-estradiol at pharmacological concentrations (> or = 10(-6) M) enhanced IL-1 and IL-6 secretion as well as the production of cell-associated IL-1. Progesterone and testosterone at similar concentrations inhibited IL-1 secretion but had no significant effect on IL-6 secretion or on the production of cell-associated IL-1. In studies of male RA donors, 17-beta-estradiol failed to enhance IL-1 or IL-6 secretion and progesterone failed to inhibit IL-1 secretion. The inhibitory effects of testosterone, however, appeared to be similar to that in normal donors. It is suggested that 17-beta-estradiol may promote IL-1 and IL-6 production and release, while gestation hormone, progesterone, and testosterone may inhibit IL-1 release in vivo. These data may partly explain the gender and age differences in the incidence of RA and the development of the disease in men with low and androgen levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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