Role of oestrogen receptors α and β in immune organ development and in oestrogen-mediated effects on thymus

Malin C. Erlandsson, Claes Ohlsson, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Hans Carlsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Oestrogens affect the development and regulation of the immune system. To determine the role of oestrogen receptors α (ER-α and β (ER-β) on the development of the immune system, male ER-α (ERKO) and ER-β (BERKO) mice, as well as αβ-double knockout (DERKO) mice, were studied. Deletion of ER-α led to hypoplasia of both thymus and spleen. Interestingly, a higher frequency of immature double CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes was found in ER-α- mice compared with ER-α+ mice. Female oophorectomized BERKO mice given oestradiol (E2) displayed a similar degree of thymic atrophy compared with the wild-type strain but showed only limited involution of thymus cortex and no alteration of thymic CD4/CD8 phenotype expression. Our data demonstrate that expression of ER-α, but not ER-β, is mandatory in males for development of full-size thymus and spleen, whereas expression of ER-β is required for E2-mediated thymic cortex atrophy and thymocyte phenotype shift in females. A potential background for the above findings may be down-regulated activity in the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 (GH/IGF-1) axis in males lacking ER-α and suppressed sensitivity of females lacking ER-β to E2-mediated suppression of IGF-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalImmunology
Volume103
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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