Testosterone Attenuates Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell-Mediated Airway Inflammation

Volume 21, Issue 9, p2487–2499, 28 November 2017

Jacqueline-Yvonne Cephus, Matthew T. Stier, Hubaida Fuseini, Jeffrey A. Yung, Shinji Toki, Melissa H. Bloodworth, Weisong Zhou, Kasia Goleniewska, and others

Highlights

  •  The number of ILC2 is increased in women with asthma compared to men with asthma
  • Sex hormones regulate IL-2-dependent ILC2 proliferation and cytokine expression
  • Testosterone intrinsically and extrinsically attenuates ILC2 airway inflammation

 Summary

Sex hormones regulate many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including asthma. As adults, asthma prevalence is 2-fold greater in women compared to men. The number of group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) is increased in patients with asthma, and we investigate how testosterone attenuates ILC2 function. In patients with moderate to severe asthma, we determine that women have an increased number of circulating ILC2 compared to men. ILC2 from adult female mice have increased IL-2-mediated ILC2 proliferation versus ILC2 from adult male mice, as well as pre-pubescent females and males. Further, 5α-dihydrotestosterone, a hormone downstream of testosterone, decreases lung ILC2 numbers and IL-5 and IL-13 expression from ILC2. In vivo, testosterone attenuated Alternaria-extract-induced IL-5+ and IL-13+ ILC2 numbers and lung eosinophils by intrinsically decreasing lung ILC2 numbers, as well as by decreasing expression of IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), ILC2-stimulating cytokines. Collectively, these findings provide a foundational understanding of sexual dimorphism in ILC2 function.

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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