Testosterone: The culprit for producing splenocyte immune depression after trauma hemorrhage

Academic Article


  • Studies indicate that, whereas immune functions in males are depressed, they are enhanced in females after trauma hemorrhage. Moreover, castration of male mice (i.e., androgen depletion) before trauma hemorrhage prevented the depression of cell-mediated immunity. Nonetheless, it remains unknown whether or not testosterone per se is responsible for producing the immune depression. To study this, female C3H/HeN mice (n = 7 animals/group) were pretreated with 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or vehicle for 19 days, then subjected to laparotomy (e.g., trauma) and hemorrhagic shock (blood pressure 35 ± 5 mmHg for 90 min) followed by fluid resuscitation or sham operation. Nontreated males underwent either trauma hemorrhage or sham operation. Twenty-four hours thereafter, splenocyte immune functions as well as plasma DHT, estradiol, and corticosterone levels were measured. DHT-pretreated females had significantly (P < 0.05) increased DHT levels, comparable to those seen in males. Conversely, estradiol levels in such females were similar to control males. Splenocyte proliferation as well as interleukin-2 and interleukin-3 release were not depressed in vehicle-treated females, whereas it was in DHT-treated females after trauma hemorrhage, comparable to hemorrhaged males. Thus high testosterone and/or low estradiol levels appear to be responsible for producing splenocyte immune depression in males after trauma hemorrhage. Agents that block testosterone receptors or increase estradiol levels may therefore be helpful in improving depressed immune functions in male trauma patients.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Angele MK; Ayala A; Cioffi WG; Bland KI; Chaudry IH
  • Volume

  • 274
  • Issue

  • 6 43-6