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J Immunol. 1997 Jul 1;159(1):3-6.

Testosterone therapy ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and induces a T helper 2 bias in the autoantigen-specific T lymphocyte response.

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UCLA Multiple Sclerosis Center, UCLA Department of Neurology, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Female SJL mice are more susceptible than male mice to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced by myelin basic protein (MBP)-specific T lymphocytes. In the present study, we examined mechanisms involved in this gender-related difference in disease susceptibility. MBP-specific T lymphocytes derived from spleens of males during the effector phase of adoptive EAE produced significantly higher levels of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine in EAE. A protective effect of testosterone was then shown. Females implanted with dihydrotestosterone pellets demonstrated a significantly less severe course of EAE as compared with females implanted with placebo pellets. Finally, MBP-specific T lymphocytes derived from dihydrotestosterone-implanted females produced significantly higher levels of IL-10 than those from placebo. Together these data indicate that testosterone exerts a protective effect in EAE that is mediated at least in part by enhanced production of IL-10 by autoantigen-specific T lymphocytes.

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