Sex Steroids Induce Apoptosis of CD8⁺CD4⁺ Double-Positive Thymocytes via TNF-α

Ivanov, Vladimir N.; Guevara Patiño, José A.; Marino, Michael W.; Nikolić-Žugić, Janko

T cell production by the thymus, thymic size, cellularity and output all decrease drastically after puberty. Among the candidates that may mediate this decrease are the sex steroids: Hypersecretion or pharmacological administration of these hormones has long been known to induce thymic hypocellularity, and their depletion yields thymic hypercellularity. Here we show that a typical sex steroid, testosterone, specifically targets CD8⁺CD4⁺ double-positive (DP) thymocytes for apoptosis via TNF-α Anti-TNF-α monoclonal antibodies abrogated testosterone-induced DP apoptosis, and TNF-a⁻^/⁻DP thymocytes were largely resistant to testosterone-mediated apoptosis in vivo. Testosterone accomplishes this effect by up-regulating TNF-α production and by simultaneously sensitizing DP thymocytes to TNF-α. Thus, TNF-α is the critical mediator of sex steroid-induced apoptosis in thymocytes, and its manipulation should provide a point of intervention to modulate T cell production in sex hormone disorders.


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Also Published In

European journal of immunology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center for Radiological Research
Published Here
September 11, 2015