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Clin Exp Immunol. 1996 Nov;106(2):410-5.

Testosterone inhibits immunoglobulin production by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


We studied the in vitro effect of testosterone on spontaneous immunoglobulin production by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Testosterone inhibited IgG and IgM production by PBMC both from males and females. The inhibitory effect of testosterone was revealed at doses more than 1 nM, increased dose-dependently, and reached a plateau at 100 nM. At doses < 1000 nM, testosterone did not reduce cell viability. Testosterone treatment reduced IgG production by 59.0% and that of IgM by 61.3% compared with control. Immunoglobulin production by B cells was also suppressed by testosterone, though the magnitude of the suppressive effect on B cells was lower than that on whole PBMC; testosterone-induced decrease of IgG production compared with control was 26.9% and that of IgM was 24.9%. Exogenous IL-6 partially restored the impaired immunoglobulin production of testosterone-treated PBMC; IgG production in testosterone culture was increased by IL-6 from 35.6% to 66.5% of control and that of IgM was also increased from 38.9% to 71.2%, respectively. Testosterone treatment reduced IL-6 production of monocytes by 78.4% compared with control, but neither affected that of T cells or B cells. These results suggest that testosterone may suppress immunoglobulin production of human PBMC directly by inhibiting B cell activity and indirectly by reducing IL-6 production of monocytes. It is thus indicated that this hormone may have protective and therapeutic effects on human autoimmune diseases.

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