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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1998 Mar 16;138(1-2):61-9.

Prominent sex steroid metabolism in human lymphocytes.

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Department of Pediatrics, North Shore University Hospital, New York University School of Medicine, Manhasset 11030, USA.


Steroid metabolism was investigated in cultured human B-lymphoblastoid cells (B-LCL), and peripheral blood T and B cells. Gene expression was examined by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction amplification (RT-PCR). Appropriate sized transcripts were detected in both cultured and fresh peripheral lymphocytes for CYP11A, CYP17, HSD11L (11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase I), HSD17B1 (17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type I) and SRD5A1 (5alpha-reductase I). B-LCL, but not T and B cells, expressed CYP11B. There was minimal expression of HSD3B1 and HSD3B2 (3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase I and II) in B-LCL and T cells. Transcripts for CYP19 and HSD11K were not detected. Corresponding enzymatic activity was detectable only for 17-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 5alpha-reductase, respectively producing testosterone and 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone. Steroid identities were confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). One metabolite thought to be deoxycorticosterone was identified by GC/MS as 6alpha-hydroxypregnanolone. It was concluded that sex hormone metabolism, including androgen synthesis, occurs in lymphocytes, and may modulate immune response.

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