Effects of ovarian steroids on immunoglobulin-secreting cell function in healthy women

Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2003 Sep;10(5):944-9. doi: 10.1128/cdli.10.5.944-949.2003.


To determine the effect of the ovarian hormone cycle on immunity, immunoglobulin-secreting cell (ISC) frequency and lymphocyte subsets were examined in the blood of healthy women. We found that immunoglobulin A (IgA)-secreting cells (IgA-ISC) were fourfold more frequent than IgG-ISC in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Further, the ISC frequency in PBMC was highest (P < 0.05) during the periovulatory stage of the menstrual cycle. Thus, endogenous ovarian steroids regulate the ISC frequency and this may explain why women are more resistant to viral infections and tend to have more immune-mediated diseases than men do.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / drug effects*
  • Antibody-Producing Cells / immunology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Menstrual Cycle / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovary / physiology


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G