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Review
. 2012 May 6;354(1-2):85-93.
doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2012.01.002. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Endocrine Control of Mucosal Immunity in the Female Reproductive Tract: Impact of Environmental Disruptors

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Free PMC article
Review

Endocrine Control of Mucosal Immunity in the Female Reproductive Tract: Impact of Environmental Disruptors

B Dunbar et al. Mol Cell Endocrinol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The complexity of the human female reproductive tract (FRT) with its multiple levels of hormonally controlled immune protection has only begun to be understood. Dissecting the functions and roles of the immune system in the FRT is complicated by the differential hormonal regulation of its distinct anatomical structures that vary throughout the menstrual cycle. Although many fundamental mechanisms of steroid regulation of reproductive tract immune function have been determined, the effects of exogenous synthetic steroids or endocrine disruptors on immune function and disease susceptibility in the FRT have yet to be evaluated in detail. There is increasing evidence that environmental or synthetic molecules can alter normal immune function. This review provides an overview of the innate and adaptive immune systems, the current status of immune function in the FRT and the potential risks of environmental or pharmacological molecules that may perturb this system.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Hormonal regulation of the FRT and the “Window of Vulnerability”
During the window of vulnerability, which begins at ovulation and lasts 7–10 days, there is a marked drop aspects of the innate and adaptive immune systems as well as in several anti-HIV molecules that serve as major sententials in the innate immune system of the FRT. Innate immune antimicrobials that decrease in secretions from the lower FRT include human α-defensin-1-3 (HNP1-3), β-defensins 2 (HBD2), and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI). Adapted from (Keller et al. 2007).

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