Immune effects of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women

Exp Gerontol. 2001 Feb;36(2):311-26. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(00)00195-9.


Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) confers many health benefits to post-menopausal women. Despite links between estrogen and immune function prior to menopause, the immune status of women receiving HRT has not been rigorously investigated. This case-control study uses clinical laboratory assessment, flow cytometry, and functional assays to measure immune function. Participants included 27 post-menopausal women taking estrogen/progestin combinations, and 22 post-menopausal women not receiving HRT. Compared to the (-)HRT group, the (+)HRT group had more B-cells (p<0.05), higher mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation (p<0.05), and higher levels of induced TNF-alpha (p<0.05). There was a trend towards a lower proportion of CD4+ T-cells expressing the activation marker CD25+ (p<0.10). These findings represent a reversal of immune alterations associated with normal aging, suggesting that preservation or improvement of immune function may be associated with the use of HRT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology
  • Aging / pathology
  • Apoptosis
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Menopause / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Cytokines