Estrogen regulates the IFN-γ promoter

H. S. Fox, B. L. Bond, T. G. Parslow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

376 Scopus citations


The greater immune reactivity of females has been attributed in part to the influence of sex steroid hormones, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here we report evidence that expression of the IFN-γ gene may be subject to direct hormonal control. In a transient expression assay, the sex steroid 17β-estradiol markedly increases activity of the IFN-γ promoter in lymphoid cells that express the appropriate hormone receptor. This effect is mediated by sequences in the 5'-flanking region of the gene, and can augment the effect of T cell-activating agents. Short term exposure to estradiol also increases IFN-γ mRNA expression in Con A-treated murine spleen cells. Hormonal regulation of this pleiotropic cytokine may account in part for the ability of estrogen to potentiate many types of immune responses, and for the disproportionate susceptibility of females to autoimmune disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4362-4367
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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