Loss of testosterone impairs anti-tumor neutrophil function

Nat Commun. 2020 Mar 31;11(1):1613. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15397-4.


In men, the incidence of melanoma rises rapidly after age 50, and nearly two thirds of melanoma deaths are male. The immune system is known to play a key role in controlling the growth and spread of malignancies, but whether age- and sex-dependent changes in immune cell function account for this effect remains unknown. Here, we show that in castrated male mice, neutrophil maturation and function are impaired, leading to elevated metastatic burden in two models of melanoma. Replacement of testosterone effectively normalized the tumor burden in castrated male mice. Further, the aberrant neutrophil phenotype was also observed in prostate cancer patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy, highlighting the evolutionary conservation and clinical relevance of the phenotype. Taken together, these results provide a better understanding of the role of androgen signaling in neutrophil function and the impact of this biology on immune control of malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Androgens
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Lung / pathology
  • Male
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Testosterone / immunology
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Androgens
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Testosterone