Sexual dimorphism in expression of receptors for bacterial lipopolysaccharides in murine macrophages: a possible mechanism for gender-based differences in endotoxic shock susceptibility

J Reprod Immunol. 2006 Aug;71(1):12-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jri.2006.01.004. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Gender-based differences in the incidence and severity of bacterial sepsis render males more susceptible to septic shock than females. However, the mechanisms that underlie this sexual dimorphism remain unclear. In the present study we confirm that males produce significantly higher levels of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and the acute phase protein LPS-binding protein (LBP) than females following in vivo lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. It has also been verified that LPS-challenged male-derived macrophages produce higher levels of IL-1beta and lower levels of PGE(2) than similarly treated female-derived cells. Importantly, we demonstrated that male-derived macrophages produce significantly higher levels of the inflammatory chemokine IP-10 following LPS challenge than their female counterparts. It has been demonstrated further that, although resting macrophage levels of mRNA encoding Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and its co-receptor CD14, are not significantly different between genders, male-derived macrophages constitutively express higher levels of these proteins on their cell surface. Elevated circulating levels of LBP and constitutively higher cell surface expression of TLR4 and CD14 on macrophages in males could result in the observed sexual dimorphism in LPS-induced inflammatory mediator production and the greater susceptibility of males to bacterial sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry
  • Female
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Shock, Septic / chemically induced
  • Shock, Septic / metabolism*
  • Shock, Septic / pathology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism*


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Tlr4 protein, mouse
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein