Gender, neuroendocrine-immune interactions and neuron-glial plasticity: Role of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)

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Signals generated by the hypothalamic-pitutary-gonadal (HPG) axis powerfully modulate immune system function. This article summarizes some aspects of the impact of gender in neuroendocrine immunomodulation. Emphasis is given to the astroglial cell compartment, defined as a key actor in neuroendocrine immune communications. In the brain, the principal hormones of the HPG axis directly interact with astroglial cells. Thus, luteinizing hormone releasing hormone, LHRH, influences hypothalamic astrocyte development and growth, and hypothalamic astrocytes direct LHRH neuron differentiation. Hormonally induced changes in neuron-glial plasticity may dictate major changes in CNS output, and thus actively participate in sex dimorphic immune responses. The impact of gender in neuroimmunomodulation is further underlined by the sex dimorphism in the expression of genes encoding for neuroendocrine hormones and their receptors within the thymus, and by the potent modulation exerted by circulating sex steroids during development and immunization. The central role of glucocorticoids in the interactive communication between neuroendocrine and immune systems, and the impact of gender on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis modulation is underscored in transgenic mice expressing a glucocorticoid receptor antisense RNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-709
Number of pages32
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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