Background: Evidence suggests that gender differences exist in the severity of many immunological diseases and their response to glucocorticosteroid treatment. In this report, we have used a murine model of ovalbumin-induced lung inflammation to address whether gender could affect the systemic response, airway inflammation and hyperreactivity and their responses to budesonide.
Results: Following an acute ovalbumin challenge, actively sensitised BALB/c mice developed a time-dependent increase in interleukin-4 and interleukin-5 production and inflammatory cell influx into bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Apart from an increased number of lymphocytes in female mice at day 3 post-challenge, none of the above parameters were affected by gender. Blood leukocyte numbers were also unaffected, whereas a two-fold increase in total serum immunoglobulin E was observed in female mice. Budesonide, given intranasally, did not affect the blood parameters, but dose-dependently inhibited the pulmonary inflammation and airway hyperreactivity in both male and female mice. Female mice were slightly less sensitive to budesonide's inhibitory action on interleukin-5 production and the development of airway hyperreactivity.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that, apart from a 2-fold increase in serum immunoglobulin E levels observed in female mice, gender is not a major factor in the present murine model of ovalbumin-induced lung inflammation. In contrast, gender might slightly influence the potency of test compounds such as steroids.