Regulation of dendritic cell differentiation and function by estrogen receptor ligands

Cell Immunol. Mar-Apr 2008;252(1-2):81-90. doi: 10.1016/j.cellimm.2007.10.008. Epub 2008 Feb 14.


Estrogen receptor (ER) ligands can modulate innate and adaptive immunity and hematopoiesis, which may explain the clear sex differences in immune responses during autoimmunity, infection or trauma. Dendritic cells (DC) are antigen presenting cells important for initiation of innate and adaptive immunity, as well as immune tolerance. DC progenitors and terminally differentiated DC express ER, indicating the ER ligands may regulate DC at multiple developmental and functional stages. Although there are profound differences in innate immunity between males and females or upon systemic imposition of sex hormones, studies are just beginning to link these differences to DC. Our and others studies demonstrate that estradiol and other ER ligands regulate the homeostasis of bone marrow myeloid and lymphoid progenitors of DC, as well as DC differentiation mediated by GM-CSF and Flt3 Ligand. Since DC have a brief lifespan, these data suggest that relatively short exposures to ER ligands in vivo will alter DC numbers and intrinsic functional capacity related to their developmental state. Studies in diverse experimental models also show that agonist and antagonist ER ligands modulate DC activation and production of inflammatory mediators. These findings have implications for human health and disease since they suggest that both DC development and functional capacity will be responsive to the physiological, pharmacological and environmental ER ligands to which an individual is exposed in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Estradiol / immunology
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Estrogen / immunology
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stem Cells / cytology


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Estradiol