A variety of evidence suggests that the cells of the immune system are targets for the actions of gonadal steroids. Experiments in both normal animals and in autoimmune disease models have established that androgens exert immunomodulatory effects at the level of the thymus. We have attempted to define precisely the potential target cells for androgen action in the thymus using recently developed antibodies to the androgen receptor. We report here that these antibodies reveal AR expression in all classes of thymocytes defined by surface markers CD4 and CD8. The highest levels of AR expression were observed in the CD4-CD8+ and CD4-CD8- subsets that include the most immature cells. These experiments establish that thymocytes are potential targets for direct actions of androgens. The data further suggest AR expression in thymocytes may be developmentally regulated in these cells, and that androgen effects early in the process of thymocyte selection may contribute to the sexual dimorphism of immune responsiveness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology