Influence of gender and oral contraceptives intake on innate and inflammatory response. Role of neuroendocrine factors

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The purpose of the present work was to determine differences between young men (M), and women in the follicular phase (W) and women taking oral contraceptives containing ethinylestradiol (CW) in the phagocytic process of neutrophils (chemotaxis, phagocytosis and microbicide capacity), in the serum concentrations of cytokines both pro-inflammatory (IFNγ, TNFα, IL-12, IL-6, IL-8) and anti-inflammatory ones (IL-10 and IL-13), and in neuroendocrine factors with immunomodulatory capacity (estradiol, prolactin, cortisol, catecolamines and 72 kDa heat shock proteins, Hsp72). Men showed a lower phagocytosis and microbicide capacity than women, and less serum concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8. CW neutrophils also showed a lower phagocytic capacity than W neutrophils, together with less serum IL-8 concentration. CW showed the highest serum concentration of IL-13. However, no statistical changes were observed in the pro-inflammatory cytokines: INF-γ, TNF-α, IL-12 and in the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. The greater anti-inflammatory status in CW than in W was parallel with lower concentrations of oestrogens. Cortisol, prolactin, and the extracellular Hsp72 seem to be involved in the gender- and contraceptives-induced differences in the inflammatory response. While cortisol (in general an immunosuppressive hormone) showed the highest values in CW, prolactin and Hsp72 (an immunopermissive factors) showed the lowest values in CW and M. Less clear is the participation of catecholamines in the gender-inflammatory differences.

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