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1.  Long-term Ovariectomy Decreases Serotonin Neuron Number and Gene Expression in Free Ranging Macaques 
Neuroscience  2011;192:675-688.
The serotonin system responds to the ovarian steroid steroids, estradiol (E) and progesterone (P), in women and female animal models. In macaques, ovarian steroid administration to ovariectomized (Ovx) individuals improves serotonin neural function through actions on pivotal serotonin-related genes and proteins, such as TPH2 (tryptophan hydroxylase 2), SERT (serotonin reuptake transporter) and the 5HT1A autoreceptor. In addition, ovarian steroid administration reduces gene and protein expression in the caspase-independent pathway and reduces DNA fragmentation in serotonin neurons. This study examines the hypothesis that long-term ovariectomy will lead to a loss of serotonin neurons and compromised gene expression in serotonin neurons. Female Japanese macaques were ovariectomized or tubal-ligated (n=5/group) at 3 years of age and returned to their natal troop. After 3 years, the animals were collected, administered a fenfluramine challenge to determine global serotonin availability and then euthanized. Fev, TPH2, SERT and 5HT1A expression were examined with digoxigenin in situ hybridization (dig-ISH) and quantitative image analysis. Cell number, positive pixel area and average pixel density were determined. In the Ovx group, Fev, TPH2, SERT and 5HT1A showed a significant decease in average and total cell number and positive pixel area. The reduction in Fev-positive neurons suggests that there were fewer serotonin neurons in Ovx animals compared to ovary-intact animals. Compared to ovary-intact animals, SERT also showed a decrease in positive-pixel density. The decrease in TPH2 in the Ovx animals was consistent with earlier results in 5-month Ovx animals, but it may be due to the decrease in cell number rather than a decrease in expression on an individual cell basis. The decrease in SERT and 5HT1A in long-term Ovx differed from previous studies in short-term Ovx. In summary, long-term ovarian steroid loss resulted in fewer serotonin neurons and overall lower Fev, TPH2, SERT and 5HT1A gene expression. This may be due to serotonin cell death or to a negative impact on a long-term developmental process in young female macaques.
PMCID: PMC3166449  PMID: 21763405
2.  Long-term Ovariectomy Alters Social and Anxious Behaviors in Semi-free Ranging Japanese Macaques 
Behavioural brain research  2011;225(1):317-327.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression often occur in young women after complete hysterectomy and in older women during menopause. There are many variables that are hard to control in human population studies, but that are absent to a large extent in stable nonhuman primate troops. However, macaques exhibit depressive and anxious behaviors in response to similar situations as humans such as isolation, stress, instability or aggression. Therefore, we hypothesized that examination of behavior in ovariectomized individuals in a stable macaque troop organized along matriarchal lineages and in which individuals have social support from extended family, would reveal effects that were due to the withdrawal of ovarian steroids without many of the confounds of human society. We also tested the hypothesis that ovariectomy would elicit and increase anxious behavior in a stressful situation such as brief exposure to single caging. Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were ovariectomized (Ovx) or tubal-ligated (intact controls) at 3 years of age and allowed to mature for 3 years in a stable troop of approximately 300 individuals. Behaviors were recorded in the outdoor corral in the third year followed by individual temperament tests in single cages. There was no obvious difference in anxiety-related behaviors such as scratching between Ovx and tubal-ligated animals in the corral. Nonetheless, compared to tubal-ligated animals, Ovx animals exhibited a significant decrease in (1) positive social behavior, (2) initiating dominance behavior (3) time receiving grooming, (4) locomoting, (5) mounting behavior, and in (6) consort behavior. However, Ovx females exhibited a significant increase in (1) consummatory behavior and (2) object play compared to tubal-ligated controls. In the individual temperament tests, Ovx individuals exhibited an increase in anxiety-related behaviors. There was no difference in adrenal weight/body weight suggesting that neither group was under chronic stress. These data indicate that ovarian hormones enable females to successfully navigate their social situation and may reduce anxiety in novel situations.
PMCID: PMC3170512  PMID: 21835209
3.  Influence of 17β-estradiol and progesterone on GABAergic gene expression in the arcuate nucleus, amygdala and hippocampus of the rhesus macaque 
Brain research  2009;1307:28-42.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, and the responsiveness of neurons to GABA can be modulated by sex steroids. To better understand how ovarian steroids influence GABAergic system in the primate brain, we evaluated the expression of genes encoding GABA receptor subunits, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and a GABA transporter in the brains of female rhesus macaques. Ovariectomized adults were subjected to a hormone replacement paradigm involving either 17β-estradiol (E), or E plus progesterone (E+P). Untreated animals served as controls. Using GeneChip® microarray analysis and real-time RT-PCR (qPCR), we examined gene expression differences within and between the amygdala (AMD), hippocampus (HPC) and arcuate nuclei of the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH). The results from PCR corresponded with results from representative GeneChip® probesets, and showed similar effects of sex steroids on GABA receptor subunit gene expression in the AMD and HPC, and a more pronounced expression than in the MBH. Exposure to E+P attenuated GAD1, GAD2 and SLC32A1 gene expression in the AMD and HPC, but not in the MBH. GABA receptor subunit gene expression was generally higher in the AMD and HPC than in the MBH, with the exception of receptor subunits ε and γ2. Taken together, the data demonstrate differential regulation of GABA receptor subunits and GABAergic system components in the MBH compared to the AMD and HPC of rhesus macaques. Elevated ε and reduced δ subunit expression in the MBH supports the hypothesis that the hypothalamic GABAergic system is resistant to the modulatory effects of sex steroids.
PMCID: PMC2787920  PMID: 19833106
gamma-aminobutyric acid; GABA receptor; Macaca mulatta; microarray
4.  Expanding the Repertoire of Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Based Vaccine Vectors via Genetic Complementation Strategies 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5445.
Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) is a safe, highly attenuated orthopoxvirus that is being developed as a recombinant vaccine vector for immunization against a number of infectious diseases and cancers. However, the expression by MVA vectors of large numbers of poxvirus antigens, which display immunodominance over vectored antigens-of-interest for the priming of T cell responses, and the induction of vector-neutralizing antibodies, which curtail the efficacy of subsequent booster immunizations, remain as significant impediments to the overall utility of such vaccines. Thus, genetic approaches that enable the derivation of MVA vectors that are antigenically less complex may allow for rational improvement of MVA-based vaccines.
Principal Findings
We have developed a genetic complementation system that enables the deletion of essential viral genes from the MVA genome, thereby allowing us to generate MVA vaccine vectors that are antigenically less complex. Using this system, we deleted the essential uracil-DNA-glycosylase (udg) gene from MVA and propagated this otherwise replication-defective variant on a complementing cell line that constitutively expresses the poxvirus udg gene and that was derived from a newly identified continuous cell line that is permissive for growth of wild type MVA. The resulting virus, MVAΔudg, does not replicate its DNA genome or express late viral gene products during infection of non-complementing cells in culture. As proof-of-concept for immunological ‘focusing’, we demonstrate that immunization of mice with MVAΔudg elicits CD8+ T cell responses that are directed against a restricted repertoire of vector antigens, as compared to immunization with parental MVA. Immunization of rhesus macaques with MVAΔudg-gag, a udg− recombinant virus that expresses an HIV subtype-B consensus gag transgene, elicited significantly higher frequencies of Gag-specific CD8 and CD4 T cells following both primary (2–4-fold) and booster (2-fold) immunizations as compared to the udg+ control virus MVA-gag, as determined by intracellular cytokine assay. In contrast, levels of HIV Gag-specific antibodies were elicited similarly in macaques following immunization with MVAΔudg-gag and MVA-gag. Furthermore, both udg− and udg+ MVA vectors induced comparatively similar titers of MVA-specific neutralizing antibody responses following immunization of mice (over a 4-log range: 104–108 PFU) and rhesus macaques. These results suggest that the generation of MVA-specific neutralizing antibody responses are largely driven by input MVA antigens, rather than those that are synthesized de novo during infection, and that the processes governing the generation of antiviral antibody responses are more readily saturated by viral antigen than are those that elicit CD8+ T cell responses.
Our identification of a spontaneously-immortalized (but not transformed) chicken embryo fibroblast cell line (DF-1) that is fully permissive for MVA growth and that can be engineered to stably express MVA genes provides the basis for a genetic system for MVA. DF-1 cells (and derivatives thereof) constitute viable alternatives, for the manufacture of MVA-based vaccines, to primary CEFs – the conventional cell substrate for MVA vaccines that is not amenable to genetic complementation strategies due to these cells' finite lifespan in culture. The establishment of a genetic system for MVA, as illustrated here to allow udg deletion, enables the generation of novel replication-defective MVA mutants and expands the repertoire of genetic viral variants that can now be explored as improved vaccine vectors.
PMCID: PMC2674217  PMID: 19421328
5.  Pathogenicity of Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus SHIV-89.6P and SIVmac Is Attenuated in Cynomolgus Macaques and Associated with Early T-Lymphocyte Responses 
Journal of Virology  2005;79(14):8878-8885.
Because most studies of AIDS pathogenesis in nonhuman primates have been performed in Indian-origin rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), little is known about lentiviral pathogenicity and control of virus replication following infection of alternative macaque species. Here, we report the consequences of simian-human immunodeficiency virus SHIV-89.6P and SIVmac251 infection in cynomolgus (Macaca fascicularis) and rhesus macaques of Chinese origin. Compared to the pathogenicity of the same viruses in Indian rhesus macaques, both cynomolgus and Chinese rhesus macaques showed lower levels of plasma virus. By 9 to 10 months after infection, both viruses became undetectable in plasma more frequently in cynomolgus than in either Chinese or Indian rhesus macaques. Furthermore, after SHIV-89.6P infection, CD4+ T-cell numbers declined less and survival was longer in cynomolgus and Chinese rhesus macaques than in Indian rhesus macaques. This attenuated pathogenicity was associated with gamma interferon ELISPOT responses to Gag and Env that were generated earlier and of higher frequency in cynomolgus than in Indian rhesus macaques. Cynomolgus macaques also developed higher titer neutralizing antibodies against SHIV-89.6 at 10 and 20 weeks postinoculation than Indian rhesus macaques. These studies demonstrate that the pathogenicity of nonhuman primate lentiviruses varies markedly based on the species or geographic origin of the macaques infected and suggest that the cellular immune responses may contribute to the control of pathogenicity in cynomolgus macaques. While cynomolgus and Chinese rhesus macaques provide alternative animal models of lentiviral infection, the lower levels of viremia in cynomolgus macaques limit the usefulness of infection of this species for vaccine trials that utilize viral load as an experimental endpoint.
PMCID: PMC1168747  PMID: 15994781
6.  Loss of Effector and Anti-Inflammatory Natural Killer T Lymphocyte Function in Pathogenic Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(9):e1002928.
Chronic immune activation is a key determinant of AIDS progression in HIV-infected humans and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaques but is singularly absent in SIV-infected natural hosts. To investigate whether natural killer T (NKT) lymphocytes contribute to the differential modulation of immune activation in AIDS-susceptible and AIDS-resistant hosts, we compared NKT function in macaques and sooty mangabeys in the absence and presence of SIV infection. Cynomolgus macaques had significantly higher frequencies of circulating invariant NKT lymphocytes compared to both rhesus macaques and AIDS-resistant sooty mangabeys. Despite this difference, mangabey NKT lymphocytes were functionally distinct from both macaque species in their ability to secrete significantly more IFN-γ, IL-13, and IL-17 in response to CD1d/α-galactosylceramide stimulation. While NKT number and function remained intact in SIV-infected mangabeys, there was a profound reduction in NKT activation-induced, but not mitogen-induced, secretion of IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-10, and TGF-β in SIV-infected macaques. SIV-infected macaques also showed a selective decline in CD4+ NKT lymphocytes which correlated significantly with an increase in circulating activated memory CD4+ T lymphocytes. Macaques with lower pre-infection NKT frequencies showed a significantly greater CD4+ T lymphocyte decline post SIV infection. The disparate effect of SIV infection on NKT function in mangabeys and macaques could be a manifestation of their differential susceptibility to AIDS. Alternately, these data also raise the possibility that loss of anti-inflammatory NKT function promotes chronic immune activation in pathogenic SIV infection, while intact NKT function helps to protect natural hosts from developing immunodeficiency and aberrant immune activation.
Author Summary
Several African nonhuman primate species such as sooty mangabeys are naturally infected with SIV and maintain high levels of viral replication without developing AIDS. SIV-infected natural hosts do not show evidence of increased chronic immune activation, a feature that distinguishes them from AIDS-susceptible SIV-infected Asian macaques. In this study we compared natural killer T (NKT) lymphocytes, a unique subset of innate T lymphocytes with anti-inflammatory properties, in AIDS-resistant and AIDS-susceptible hosts. Sooty mangabey NKT cells retained normal functionality following SIV infection and were more potent than macaque NKT cells in their ability to produce interferon-γ and secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines. In contrast, NKT cells of SIV-infected macaques were markedly hypo-functional with regards to secretion of anti-inflammatory and effector cytokines and showed an association between loss of CD4+ NKT cells and increased immune activation. These findings suggest that dysfunctional NKT cells may promote increased immune activation in AIDS-susceptible hosts while intact effector and anti-inflammatory NKT cells could help to prevent immunodeficiency and increased immune activation in natural hosts.
PMCID: PMC3447755  PMID: 23028326
7.  Ovariectomized OVA-Sensitized Mice Display Increased Frequency of CD4+Foxp3+ T Regulatory Cells in the Periphery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65674.
It is well established that female sex hormones have a pivotal role in inflammation. For instance, our group has previously reported that estradiol has proinflammatory actions during allergic lung response in animal models. Based on these findings, we have decided to further investigate whether T regulatory cells are affected by female sex hormones absence after ovariectomy. We evaluated by flow cytometry the frequencies of CD4+Foxp3+ T regulatory cells (Tregs) in central and peripheral lymphoid organs, such as the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes. Moreover, we have also used the murine model of allergic lung inflammation a to evaluate how female sex hormones would affect the immune response in vivo. To address that, ovariectomized or sham operated female Balb/c mice were sensitized or not with ovalbumin 7 and 14 days later and subsequently challenged twice by aerosolized ovalbumin on day 21. Besides the frequency of CD4+Foxp3+ T regulatory cells, we also measured the cytokines IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13 and IL-17 in the bronchoalveolar lavage from lungs of ovalbumine challenged groups. Our results demonstrate that the absence of female sex hormones after ovariectomy is able to increase the frequency of Tregs in the periphery. As we did not observe differences in the thymus-derived natural occurring Tregs, our data may indicate expansion or conversion of peripheral adaptive Tregs. In accordance with Treg suppressive activity, ovariectomized and ovalbumine-sensitized and challenged animals had significantly reduced lung inflammation. This was observed after cytokine analysis of lung explants showing significant reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-4, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-17, associated to increased amount of IL-10. In summary, our data clearly demonstrates that OVA sensitization 7 days after ovariectomy culminates in reduced lung inflammation, which may be directly correlated with the expansion of Tregs in the periphery and further higher IL-10 secretion in the lungs.
PMCID: PMC3684611  PMID: 23799034
8.  Spatial Memory Performance Associated with Measures of Immune Function in Elderly Female Rhesus Macaques 
European geriatric medicine  2011;2(2):117-121.
We recently reported that in aged female rhesus macaques, spatial learning and memory correlates with circadian sleep-wake measures and hippocampal muscarinic type 1 (M1) receptor binding. To investigate if spatial memory also correlates with measures of immune function, we now assessed the magnitude of the adaptive immune response to vaccination in the same old female rhesus macaques. Cognitively characterized animals were classified as good spatial performers (GSP) or poor spatial performers (PSP) based on performance in the Spatial Foodport maze. The GSP group had higher frequency of CD8, but not CD4, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) producing cells following vaccination compared to the PSP group, suggesting a stronger CD8 T cell response in the GSP group. In addition, the number of CD-8 IFN-γ positive cells correlated with measures of sleep quality. Interestingly, the PSP group had a significantly higher antibody titer compared to the GSP group, and antibody titer negatively correlated with day-time activity. Thus, in aged female rhesus macaques, superior cognitive performance is correlated with a more robust CD8 T cell response but a reduced antibody response to vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3097089  PMID: 21603071
spatial learning and memory; immune senescence; circadian activity
9.  A Critical Role for CD8 T Cells in a Nonhuman Primate Model of Tuberculosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(4):e1000392.
The role of CD8 T cells in anti-tuberculosis immunity in humans remains unknown, and studies of CD8 T cell–mediated protection against tuberculosis in mice have yielded controversial results. Unlike mice, humans and nonhuman primates share a number of important features of the immune system that relate directly to the specificity and functions of CD8 T cells, such as the expression of group 1 CD1 proteins that are capable of presenting Mycobacterium tuberculosis lipids antigens and the cytotoxic/bactericidal protein granulysin. Employing a more relevant nonhuman primate model of human tuberculosis, we examined the contribution of BCG- or M. tuberculosis-elicited CD8 T cells to vaccine-induced immunity against tuberculosis. CD8 depletion compromised BCG vaccine-induced immune control of M. tuberculosis replication in the vaccinated rhesus macaques. Depletion of CD8 T cells in BCG-vaccinated rhesus macaques led to a significant decrease in the vaccine-induced immunity against tuberculosis. Consistently, depletion of CD8 T cells in rhesus macaques that had been previously infected with M. tuberculosis and cured by antibiotic therapy also resulted in a loss of anti-tuberculosis immunity upon M. tuberculosis re-infection. The current study demonstrates a major role for CD8 T cells in anti-tuberculosis immunity, and supports the view that CD8 T cells should be included in strategies for development of new tuberculosis vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
Author Summary
Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria remain top killers worldwide. Cell-mediated immune responses play a crucial role in immunity against tuberculosis. While CD4 T cells are well described for their protection against tuberculosis, little is known about the role of human CD8 T cells in anti-tuberculosis immunity. Studies done to date in mice have yielded conflicting results regarding the role of mouse CD8 T cells in tuberculosis. Since there are considerable differences in CD8 T cell biology between mice and primates including humans and macaques, studies in humans or macaques are crucial for clarifying human CD8 T cell–mediated immunity against tuberculosis. Thus, we used a macaque tuberculosis model to examine the contribution of CD8 T cells to vaccine-induced immunity against tuberculosis. We found that CD8 T cells play a role in BCG vaccine-induced immune control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis replication and in the vaccine-induced immunity against tuberculosis. Consistently, memory CD8 T cells also play a crucial role in anti-tuberculosis immunity upon M. tuberculosis re-infection. The findings in the current study provide evidence that human CD8 T cells are of importance for anti-tuberculosis immunity, and support the view that CD8 T cells should be targeted for development of new tuberculosis vaccines and immunotherapeutics.
PMCID: PMC2663842  PMID: 19381260
10.  An adenovirus-simian immunodeficiency virus env vaccine elicits humoral, cellular, and mucosal immune responses in rhesus macaques and decreases viral burden following vaginal challenge. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(11):8531-8541.
Six female rhesus macaques were immunized orally and intranasally at 0 weeks and intratracheally at 12 weeks with an adenovirus type 5 host range mutant (Ad5hr)-simian immunodeficiency virus SIVsm env recombinant and at 24 and 36 weeks with native SIVmac251 gp120 in Syntex adjuvant. Four macaques received the Ad5hr vector and adjuvant alone; two additional controls were naive. In vivo replication of the Ad5hr wild-type and recombinant vectors occurred with detection of Ad5 DNA in stool samples and/or nasal secretions in all macaques and increases in Ad5 neutralizing antibody in 9 of 10 macaques following Ad administrations. SIV-specific neutralizing antibodies appeared after the second recombinant immunization and rose to titers > 10,000 following the second subunit boost. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA antibodies able to bind gp120 developed in nasal and rectal secretions, and SIV-specific IgGs were also observed in vaginal secretions and saliva. T-cell proliferative responses to SIV gp140 and T-helper epitopes were sporadically detected in all immunized macaques. Following vaginal challenge with SIVmac251, transient or persistent infection resulted in both immunized and control monkeys. The mean viral burden in persistently infected immunized macaques was significantly decreased in the primary infection period compared to that of control macaques. These results establish in vivo use of the Ad5hr vector, which overcomes the host range restriction of human Ads for rhesus macaques, thereby providing a new model for evaluation of Ad-based vaccines. In addition, they show that a vaccine regimen using the Ad5hr-SIV env recombinant and gp120 subunit induces strong humoral, cellular, and mucosal immunity in rhesus macaques. The reduced viral burden achieved solely with an env-based vaccine supports further development of Ad-based vaccines comprising additional viral components for immune therapy and AIDS vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC192317  PMID: 9343211
11.  G-protein Coupled Estrogen Receptor, Estrogen Receptor α, and Progesterone Receptor Immunohistochemistry in the Hypothalamus of Aging Female Rhesus Macaques Given Long-Term Estradiol Treatment 
Steroid hormone receptors are widely and heterogeneously expressed in the brain, and are regulated by age and gonadal hormones. Our goal was to quantify effects of aging, long-term estradiol (E2) treatment, and their interactions, on expression of G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), estrogen receptor α (ERα) and progesterone receptor (PR) immunoreactivity in two hypothalamic regions, the arcuate (ARC) and the periventricular area (PERI) of rhesus monkeys as a model of menopause and hormone replacement. Ovariectomized (OVX) rhesus macaques were young (~11 years) or aged (~25 years), given oil (vehicle) or E2 every 3 weeks for 2 years. Immunohistochemistry and stereologic analysis of ERα, PR, and GPER was performed. More effects were detected for GPER than the other two receptors. Specifically, GPER cell density in the ARC and PERI, and the percent of GPER-immunoreactive cells in the PERI, were greater in aged than in young monkeys. In addition, we mapped the qualitative distribution of GPER in the monkey hypothalamus and nearby regions. For ERα, E2 treated monkeys tended to have higher cell density than vehicle monkeys in the ARC. The percent of PR density in the PERI tended to be higher in E2 than vehicle monkeys of both ages. This study shows that the aged hypothalamus maintains expression of hormone receptors with age, and that long-term cyclic E2 treatment has few effects on their expression, although GPER was affected more than ERα or PR. This result is surprising in light of evidence for E2 regulation of the receptors studied here, and differences may be due to the selected regions, long-term nature of E2 treatment, among other possibilities.
PMCID: PMC4282650  PMID: 24862737
12.  Differential Effects of Ovarian Steroids and Raloxifene on Serotonin 1A and 2C Receptor Protein Expression in Macaques 
Endocrine  2008;33(3):285-293.
To further understand the role of ovarian hormones in the function of the serotonin neural system, we investigated the effects of estradiol (E), progesterone (P) and raloxifene on 5HT 1A and 2C receptor protein expression in the dorsal raphe region using western blot analysis. Adult rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were ovariectomized and implanted with Silastic capsules containing E or P. In the first paradigm, animals that had been ovariectomized for 6-16 months were treated for one month with E (E1) or E+P (EP1) and compared to animals that were untreated and ovariectomized for 5 months (n=4/group). In the second paradigm, comparisons were made between animals that were ovariectomized and untreated for 5 months, or ovariectomized and immediately implanted with Silastic capsules containing E or E+P for 5 months (E5, EP5), or administered raloxifene in the diet for 5 months (Ral5) (n=4/group). The dorsal raphe region was harvested, homogenized and a crude membrane fraction was obtained for examination of receptor proteins. In the first paradigm, 5HT1A receptor protein expression was significantly lower in E1 and EP1 treatment groups compared to the Ovx-control group (ANOVA p=0.01; posthoc p<0.03), but 5HT2C receptor expression was unaffected by 1 month of E or EP treatment. In the second paradigm, there was no difference in 5HT1A receptor expression between the Ovx-control group and the E5 group, but 5HT1A receptor expression was significantly suppressed in the EP5 group (ANOVA p = 0.04; posthoc p<0.05). In addition, 5HT2C expression increased in the E5 treatment group relative to the Ovx-control group. Addition of P to the E5 regimen prevented the E5-induced increase in 5HT2C receptor expression and significantly reduced 5HT2C receptor expression to a level below that observed in the Ovx-control group (ANOVA p=0.001; posthoc p < 0.05). Thus, 5HT1A receptor may lose sensitivity to the suppressive effect of E after 5 months whereas the 5HT2C receptor increases. However, addition of P in the EP5 regimen maintains the regulatory effects observed with 1 month of treatment. 5HT1A receptor protein levels were higher with raloxifene treatment than in Ovx-control animals (p<0.01) suggesting that raloxifene may antagonize residual E in ovariectomized animals.
PMCID: PMC3267476  PMID: 19021000
estradiol; progesterone; serotonin receptors; macaques; raphe nucleus
13.  Localization and hormonal regulation of endometrial matrix metalloproteinase-26 in the rhesus macaque 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2012;27(6):1723-1734.
The current understanding of hormonal regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-26 (MMP-26) in the primate endometrium is incomplete. The goal of this work was to clarify estrogen and progesterone regulation of MMP-26 in the endometrium of ovariectomized, hormone-treated rhesus macaques.
Ovariectomized rhesus macaques (n= 66) were treated with estradiol (E2), E2 plus progesterone, E2 followed by progesterone alone or no hormone. Endometrium was collected from the hormone-treated animals during the early, mid- and late proliferative and secretory phases of the artificial menstrual cycle. MMP-26 expression was quantified by real-time PCR, and MMP-26 transcript and protein were localized by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry and correlated with estrogen receptor 1 and progesterone receptor (PGR).
MMP-26 was localized to glandular epithelium and was undetectable in the endometrial stroma and vasculature. MMP-26 transcript levels were minimal in the hormone-deprived macaques and treatment with E2 alone did not affect MMP-26 levels. Treatment with progesterone both in the presence and absence of E2 stimulated MMP-26 expression in the early and mid-secretory phases (P < 0.001). MMP-26 expression preceded decidualization of endometrial stroma. MMP-26 levels then declined to baseline in the late secretory phase (P < 0.01) despite continued E2 plus progesterone treatment. Loss of detectable MMP-26 expression in the late secretory phase was correlated with late secretory phase loss of glandular epithelial PGR.
Endometrial MMP-26 expression is dependent on the presence of progesterone in the early secretory phase and then gradually becomes refractory to progesterone stimulation in the late secretory phase. In the macaque, MMP-26 is a marker of the pre-decidual, secretory endometrium. During the second half of the late secretory phase, and during decidualization, MMP-26 loses its response to progesterone concurrent with the loss of epithelial PGR. The decline in MMP-26 levels between the mid- and late secretory phases may play a role in the receptive window for embryo implantation.
PMCID: PMC3357194  PMID: 22434853
matrix metalloproteinase-26; estradiol; progesterone; rhesus macaque; endometrium
14.  Ovarian Steroids Increase Glutamatergic Related Gene Expression in Serotonin Neurons of Macaques 
Dendritic spines are the elementary structural units of neuronal plasticity and their proliferation and stabilization involve components of glutamate neurotransmission. In a model of hormone replacement therapy (HT), we sought the effect of estradiol (E) and progesterone (P) on gene expression related to glutamate neurotransmission in a laser captured preparation enriched for serotonin neurons from rhesus macaques. Microarray analysis was conducted (n=2 animals/treatment) and then confirmed for pivotal genes with qRT-PCR on additional laser captured material (n=3 animals/treatment). Ovariectomized rhesus macaques were treated with either placebo, E or E+P via Silastic implants for 1 month prior to euthanasia. The midbrain was obtained, sectioned and immunostained for TPH. TPH-positive neurons were laser captured using an Arcturus Laser Dissection Microscope (Pixel II). RNA from laser captured serotonin neurons (n=2 animals/treatment) was hybridized to Rhesus Affymetrix GeneChips for screening purposes. There was a 2-fold or greater change in the expression of 28 probe sets related to glutamate processes in E and E+P treated animals. Quantitative (q) RT-PCR was conducted for 11 genes with a custom Taqman PCR array containing monkey specific primers and analyzed with ANOVA followed by Bonferroni’s test. The log of the relative expression values indicated that in general, the responses to E and E+P were similar. Comparison of the relative expression or log relative expression in Ovx-controls to combined E and E+P treated groups with t-tests showed a significant increase in AMPA1 (GRIA1), AMPA2 (GRIA2), AMPA4 (GRIA4), NMDA2a (GRIN2A), metabotrophic gluatamate receptor (GRM1), glutamine synthetase (GLUL), glutamate dehydrogenase (GLUD), glutamate cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM), the glutamate transporter 2 (SLC1A2) and the glutamate transporter 3 (SLC1A3) with steroid treatment. There was no effect of steroid treatment on gene expression of the glutamate cysteine ligase catalytic subunit (GCLC). These data suggest that ovarian steroids target gene expression of ionotrophic and metabotrophic glutamate receptors in serotonin neurons. These receptors are present on dendritic spines and are necessary for spine maturation. The mRNAs coding for glutamate-related enzymes and transporters are likely derived from astrocytes or glutamate-containing terminals. Their induction by ovarian steroids indicates a complex upregulation of multiple components in the glutamate cycle and antioxidation, in addition to spine proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3306448  PMID: 22154832
serotonin; macaques; estrogen; progesterone; Affymetrix array; dorsal raphe; glutamate receptors; glutamate enzymes; quantitative PCR
15.  Exogenous 17-β estradiol administration blunts progression of established angiotensin II-induced abdominal aortic aneurysms in female ovariectomized mice 
Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) occur predominately in males. However, AAAs in females have rapid growth rates and rupture at smaller sizes. Mechanisms contributing to AAA progression in females are undefined. We defined effects of ovariectomy, with and without 17-β estradiol (E2), on progression of established angiotensin II (AngII)-induced AAAs in female mice.
We used neonatal testosterone exposures at 1 day of age to promote susceptibility to AngII-induced AAAs in adult female Ldlr−/− mice. Females were infused with AngII for 28 days to induce AAAs, and then stratified into groups that were sham, ovariectomized (Ovx, vehicle), or Ovx with E2 administration for 2 months of continued AngII infusions. Aortic lumen diameters were quantified by ultrasound and analyzed by linear mixed model, and maximal AAA diameters were analyzed by one-way ANOVA. Atherosclerosis was quantified en face in the aortic arch. AAA tissue sections were analyzed for cellular composition. We quantified effects of E2 on abdominal aortic smooth muscle cell (SMC) growth, α-actin and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) production, and wound healing.
Serum E2 concentrations were increased significantly by E2. Aortic lumen diameters increased over time in sham-operated and Ovx (vehicle) females, but not in Ovx females administered E2. At day 70, E2 administration decreased significantly aortic lumen diameters compared to Ovx vehicle and sham-operated females. Compared to Ovx females (vehicle), maximal AAA diameters were reduced significantly by E2. AAA tissue sections from Ovx females administered E2 exhibited significant increases in α-actin and decreases in neutrophils compared to Ovx females administered vehicle. In abdominal aortic SMCs, E2 resulted in a concentration-dependent increase in α-actin, elevated TGF-β, and more rapid wound healing. E2 administration to Ovx females also significantly reduced atherosclerotic lesions compared to sham-operated females. This effect was accompanied by significant reductions in serum cholesterol concentrations.
E2 administration to Ovx females abolished progressive growth and decreased severity of AngII-induced AAAs. These effects were accompanied by increased SMC α-actin, elevated TGF-β, and reduced neutrophils. Similarly, E2 administration reduced AngII-induced atherosclerosis. These results suggest that loss of E2 in post-menopausal females may contribute to progressive growth of AAAs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13293-015-0030-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4485333  PMID: 26131353
Angiotensin; Abdominal aortic aneurysms; Estrogen; Atherosclerosis; Transforming growth factor-beta
16.  Social subordination impairs hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal function in female rhesus monkeys 
Hormones and behavior  2012;62(4):389-399.
Linear dominance hierarchies organize and maintain stability in female rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) social groups regardless of group size. As a consequence of their low social status, subordinate females suffer from an array of adverse outcomes including reproductive compromise, impaired immune function, and poor cardiovascular health. However, data that differentiate limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis (LHPA) parameters between dominant from subordinate female monkeys are inconsistent, bringing into question whether social subordination alters the LHPA axis in female macaques. One difficulty in examining LHPA function in macaques may be the confounding effects of cycling ovarian steroids that are known to modulate LHPA activity. The current study used ovariectomized dominant and subordinate female rhesus monkeys to examine the effect that social subordination has on LHPA function by measuring morning and diurnal serum cortisol levels, dexamethasone (Dex) suppression of cortisol, metabolic clearance of Dex, and ACTH stimulation of adrenal cortisol release and cortisol response following exposure to acute social isolation. Compared to dominant females, subordinate females showed diminished morning peak cortisol secretion, weakened glucocorticoid negative feedback, and decreased adrenal cortisol response to an ACTH challenge as well as a restrained cortisol response following social isolation. However, the metabolism of Dex did not account for differences in Dex suppression between dominant and subordinate females. These results indicate that the ability to mount and limit glucocorticoid release is significantly reduced by psychosocial stress in female rhesus macaques, suggesting a hyporesponsive LHPA phenotype which resembles that observed in several human psychopathologies.
PMCID: PMC3477274  PMID: 22940527
social subordination; dexamethasone; cortisol; ACTH; psychosocial stress; monkeys
17.  Immunogenicity of a Vaccine Regimen Composed of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus DNA, rMVA, and Viral Particles Administered to Female Rhesus Macaques via Four Different Mucosal Routes 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(8):4738-4750.
A comparative evaluation of the immunity stimulated with a vaccine regimen that includes simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), interleukin 2 (IL-2), and IL-15 DNAs, recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA), and inactivated SIVmac239 particles administered into the oral and nasal cavities, small intestine, and vagina was carried out in female rhesus macaques to determine the best route to induce diverse anti-SIV immunity that may be critical to protection from SIV infection and disease. All four immunizations generated mucosal SIV-specific IgA. Oral immunization was as effective as vaginal immunization in inducing SIV-specific IgA in vaginal secretions and generated greater IgA responses in rectal secretions and saliva samples compared to the other immunization routes. All four immunizations stimulated systemic T-cell responses against Gag and Env, albeit to a different extent, with oral immunization providing greater magnitude and nasal immunization providing wider functional heterogeneity. SIV-specific T cells producing gamma interferon (IFN-γ) dominated these responses. Limited levels of SIV-specific IgG antibodies were detected in plasma samples, and no SIV-specific IgG antibodies were detected in secretions. Vaccination also induced CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses in the rectal and vaginal mucosa with greater functional heterogeneity than in blood samples. Rectal T-cell responses were significantly greater in the orally vaccinated animals than in the other animals. The most balanced, diverse, and higher-magnitude vaginal T-cell responses were observed after intestinal vaccination. Significantly higher CD8+ granzyme B-positive T-cell responses were observed systemically after intestinal vaccination and in rectal cells after oral immunization. The majority of SIV-specific T cells that produced granzyme B did not produce cytokines. Of the immunization routes tested, oral vaccination provided the most diverse and significant response to the vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3624383  PMID: 23408627
18.  Depo-Provera® Treatment Does Not Abrogate Protection from Intravenous SIV Challenge in Female Macaques Immunized with an Attenuated AIDS Virus 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9814.
In a previous study, progesterone treatment of female monkeys immunized with live, attenuated SHIV89.6 abrogated the generally consistent protection from vaginal simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) challenge. The mechanisms responsible for the loss of protection remain to be defined. The objective of the present study was to determine whether Depo-Provera® administration alters protection from intravenous SIV challenge in SHIV-immunized female macaques.
Methods and Findings
Two groups of female macaques were immunized with attenuated SHIV89.6 and then challenged intravenously with SIVmac239. Four weeks before challenge, one animal group was treated with Depo-Provera®, a commonly used injectable contraceptive progestin. As expected, SHIV-immunized monkeys had significantly lower peak and set-point plasma viral RNA levels compared to naïve controls, but in contrast to previously published findings with vaginal SIV challenge, the Depo-Provera® SHIV-immunized animals controlled SIV replication to a similar, or even slightly greater, degree than did the untreated SHIV-immunized animals. Control of viral replication from week 4 to week 20 after challenge was more consistent in the progesterone-treated, SHIV-immunized animals than in untreated, SHIV-immunized animals. Although levels of interferon-γ production were similar, the SIV-specific CD8+ T cells of progesterone-treated animals expressed more functions than the anti-viral CD8+ T cells from untreated animals.
Depo-Provera® did not diminish the control of viral replication after intravenous SIV challenge in female macaques immunized with a live-attenuated lentivirus. This result contrasts with the previously reported effect of Depo-Provera® on protection from vaginal SIV challenge and strongly implies that the decreased protection from vaginal challenge is due to effects of progesterone on the genital tract rather than to systemic effects. Further, these results demonstrate that the effects of hormonal contraceptives on vaccine efficacy need to be considered in the context of testing and use of an AIDS vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2843738  PMID: 20352116
19.  Ovarian Steroids Decrease DNA Fragmentation In Serotonin Neurons of Non-injured Rhesus Macaques 
Molecular psychiatry  2009;15(6):657-668.
We previously found that ovarian steroids promote neuroprotection in serotonin neurons by decreasing the expression of pro-apoptotic genes and proteins in the dorsal raphe nucleus of rhesus macaques, even in the absence of overt injury. In this study, we questioned whether these actions would lead to a reduction in DNA fragmentation in serotonin neurons. Ovariectomized (OVX) rhesus monkeys received Silastic implants that were empty (placebo) or containing estradiol (E), progesterone (P) or estradiol plus progesterone (E+P) for one month. Eight levels of the dorsal raphe nucleus in a rostral to caudal direction were immunostained with TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase nick end labeling). Two staining patterns were observed, which are referred to as type I, with complete dark staining of the nucleus, and type II, with peripheral staining in the perinuclear area. A montage of the dorsal raphe was created at each level with a Marianas Stereology Microscope and Slidebook 4.2 and TUNEL positive cells were counted. In direct comparison with OVX animals, P treatment and E+P treatment significantly reduced the total number of TUNEL positive cells (Mann Whitney test, both treatments p=0.04) and E+P treatment reduced the number of TUNEL positive cells/cubic millimeter (Mann Whitney test, p=0.04). Double immunocytochemistry for TUNEL and TPH indicated that DNA fragmentation was prominent in serotonin neurons. These data suggest that in the absence of ovarian steroids, a cascade of gene and protein expression leads to an increase in DNA fragmentation in serotonin neurons. Conversely, ovarian steroids have a neuroprotective role in the non-injured brain and prevent DNA fragmentation and cell death in serotonin neurons of nonhuman primates.
PMCID: PMC2874644  PMID: 19823180
Apoptosis; necrosis; TUNEL; estrogen; progesterone; serotonin; dorsal raphe nucleus
20.  Copy Number Variation of CCL3-like Genes Affects Rate of Progression to Simian-AIDS in Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(1):e1000346.
Variation in genes underlying host immunity can lead to marked differences in susceptibility to HIV infection among humans. Despite heavy reliance on non-human primates as models for HIV/AIDS, little is known about which host factors are shared and which are unique to a given primate lineage. Here, we investigate whether copy number variation (CNV) at CCL3-like genes (CCL3L), a key genetic host factor for HIV/AIDS susceptibility and cell-mediated immune response in humans, is also a determinant of time until onset of simian-AIDS in rhesus macaques. Using a retrospective study of 57 rhesus macaques experimentally infected with SIVmac, we find that CCL3L CNV explains approximately 18% of the variance in time to simian-AIDS (p<0.001) with lower CCL3L copy number associating with more rapid disease course. We also find that CCL3L copy number varies significantly (p<10−6) among rhesus subpopulations, with Indian-origin macaques having, on average, half as many CCL3L gene copies as Chinese-origin macaques. Lastly, we confirm that CCL3L shows variable copy number in humans and chimpanzees and report on CCL3L CNV within and among three additional primate species. On the basis of our findings we suggest that (1) the difference in population level copy number may explain previously reported observations of longer post-infection survivorship of Chinese-origin rhesus macaques, (2) stratification by CCL3L copy number in rhesus SIV vaccine trials will increase power and reduce noise due to non-vaccine-related differences in survival, and (3) CCL3L CNV is an ancestral component of the primate immune response and, therefore, copy number variation has not been driven by HIV or SIV per se.
Author Summary
Development of vaccines for HIV/AIDS is a pressing global issue. The rhesus monkey remains the primary model for testing potential human vaccines; however, little is known about similarities and differences in host genes involved in HIV/AIDS response in humans and rhesus monkeys. Understanding these similarities and/or differences should allow more efficient testing of vaccines beneficial to humans. Here we describe the role that variation in the number of copies of CCL3-like genes (CCL3L) plays in SIV progression rates in rhesus monkeys. Copy number variation (CNV) of these genes has previously been shown to play a role in susceptibility and progression of HIV in humans. Our results suggest that individual monkeys with lower CCL3L copy number progress more rapidly. Accounting for CCL3L CNV in rhesus vaccine trials will improve researchers' abilities to interpret survival data.
PMCID: PMC2621346  PMID: 19165326
21.  Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I Haplotype Diversity in Chinese Rhesus Macaques 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;3(7):1195-1201.
The use of Chinese-origin rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) for infectious disease immunity research is increasing despite the relative lack of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I immunogenetics information available for this population. We determined transcript-based MHC class I haplotypes for 385 Chinese rhesus macaques from five different experimental cohorts, providing a concise representation of the full complement of MHC class I major alleles expressed by each animal. In total, 123 Mamu-A and Mamu-B haplotypes were defined in the full Chinese rhesus macaque cohort. We then performed an analysis of haplotype frequencies across the experimental cohorts of Chinese rhesus macaques, as well as a comparison against a group of 96 Indian rhesus macaques. Notably, 35 of the 51 Mamu-A and Mamu-B haplotypes observed in Indian rhesus macaques were also detected in the Chinese population, with 85% of the 385 Chinese-origin rhesus macaques expressing at least one of these class I haplotypes. This unexpected conservation of Indian rhesus macaque MHC class I haplotypes in the Chinese rhesus macaque population suggests that immunologic insights originally gleaned from studies using Indian rhesus macaques may be more applicable to Chinese rhesus macaques than previously appreciated and may provide an opportunity for studies of CD8+ T-cell responses between populations. It may also be possible to extend these studies across multiple species of macaques, as we found evidence of shared ancestral haplotypes between Chinese rhesus and Mauritian cynomolgus macaques.
PMCID: PMC3704247  PMID: 23696100
Macaca mulatta; MHC class I; RNA transcript-based haplotypes; immunogenetics
22.  Evidence That Rhesus Macaques Self-Cure from a Schistosoma japonicum Infection by Disrupting Worm Esophageal Function: A New Route to an Effective Vaccine? 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(7):e0003925.
Rhesus macaques are unusual among schistosome hosts, self-curing from an established infection and thereafter manifesting solid immunity against a challenge, an ideal model for vaccine development. Previously, the immunological basis of self-cure was confirmed; surviving worms had ceased feeding but how immunological pressure achieved this was unclear. The schistosome esophagus is not simply a conduit for blood but plays a central role in its processing. Secretions from the anterior and posterior esophageal glands mix with incoming blood causing erythrocyte lysis and tethering and killing of leucocytes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We have analysed the self-cure process in rhesus macaques infected with Schistosoma japonicum. Faecal egg output and circulating antigen levels were used to chart the establishment of a mature worm population and its subsequent demise. The physiological stress of surviving females at perfusion was especially evident from their pale, shrunken appearance, while changes in the structure and function of the esophagus were observed in both sexes. In the anterior region electron microscopy revealed that the vesicle secretory process was disrupted, the tips of lining corrugations being swollen by greatly enlarged vesicles and the putative sites of vesicle release obscured by intense deposits of IgG. The lumen of the posterior esophagus in starving worms was occluded by cellular debris and the lining cytoplasmic plates were closely adherent, also potentially preventing secretion. Seven proteins secreted by the posterior gland were identified and IgG responses were detected to some or all of them. Intrinsic rhesus IgG colocalized with secreted SjMEGs 4.1, 8.2, 9, 11 and VAL-7 on cryosections, suggesting they are potential targets for disruption of function.
Our data suggest that rhesus macaques self-cure by blocking esophagus function with antibody; the protein products of the glands provide a new class of potential vaccine targets.
Author Summary
Rhesus macaques can self-cure from a schistosome infection. Antibody is crucial to drive this process and adult worm elimination is preceded by cessation of blood feeding. Recently we have shown that the schistosome esophagus plays a central role in blood processing. We first confirm the self-cure process in rhesus macaques infected with Schistosoma japonicum and provide evidence that the self-cure mechanism involves blocking the worm esophagus function with antibody. In the anterior region, secretion of light vesicles is disrupted hence their contents are not released into the lumen to interact with blood components to fulfil their tasks. The plates in the posterior lining stick together whilst the lumen is occluded, hampering blood processing. Furthermore, rhesus IgG binds strongly to the worm esophageal lumen and co-localizes completely with five esophageal secreted proteins, SjMEGs 4.1, 8.2, 9, 11 and VAL-7. Our results indicate that rhesus macaques eliminate their adult worms by disrupting esophageal function making blood difficult to ingest; feeding stops eventually causing their demise because nutrient uptake across the body surface cannot fully compensate.
PMCID: PMC4498593  PMID: 26161644
23.  Ovariectomy and Subsequent Treatment with Estrogen Receptor Agonists Tune the Innate Immune System of the Hippocampus in Middle-Aged Female Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88540.
The innate immune system including microglia has a major contribution to maintenance of the physiological functions of the hippocampus by permanent monitoring of the neural milieu and elimination of tissue-damaging threats. The hippocampus is vulnerable to age-related changes ranging from gene expression to network connectivity. The risk of hippocampal deterioration increases with the decline of gonadal hormone supply. To explore the impact of hormone milieu on the function of the innate immune system in middle-aged female rats, we compared mRNA expression in the hippocampus after gonadal hormone withdrawal, with or without subsequent estrogen replacement using estradiol and isotype-selective estrogen receptor (ER) agonists. Targeted profiling assessed the status of the innate immune system (macrophage-associated receptors, complement, inhibitory neuronal ligands), local estradiol synthesis (P450 aromatase) and estrogen reception (ER). Results established upregulation of macrophage-associated (Cd45, Iba1, Cd68, Cd11b, Cd18, Fcgr1a, Fcgr2b) and complement (C3, factor B, properdin) genes in response to ovariectomy. Ovariectomy upregulated Cd22 and downregulated semaphorin3A (Sema3a) expression, indicating altered neuronal regulation of microglia. Ovariectomy also led to downregulation of aromatase and upregulation of ERα gene. Of note, analogous changes were observed in the hippocampus of postmenopausal women. In ovariectomized rats, estradiol replacement attenuated Iba1, Cd11b, Fcgr1a, C3, increased mannose receptor Mrc1, Cd163 and reversed Sema3a expression. In contrast, reduced expression of aromatase was not reversed by estradiol. While the effects of ERα agonist closely resembled those of estradiol, ERβ agonist was also capable of attenuating the expression of several macrophage-associated and complement genes. These data together indicate that the innate immune system of the aging hippocampus is highly responsive to the gonadal hormone milieu. In ovariectomized female rats, estradiol replacement exerts potent immunomodulatory effects including attenuation of microglia sensitization, initiation of M2-like activation and modulation of complement expression by targeting hippocampal neurons and glial cells through ERα and ERβ.
PMCID: PMC3923802  PMID: 24551115
24.  Pubertal immune challenge blocks the ability of estradiol to enhance performance on cognitive tasks in adult female mice 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2012;38(7):1170-1177.
Puberty is a period characterized by brain reorganization that contributes to the development of neural and behavioral responses to gonadal steroids. Previously, we have shown that a single injection of the bacterial endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 1.5mg/kg IP), during the pubertal period (around 6 weeks old) in mice decreases sexual receptivity in response to estradiol and progesterone in adulthood. These findings suggest that pubertal immune challenge has an enduring effect of decreasing the behavioral responsiveness to gonadal steroid hormones. Since estradiol improves cognitive function in certain tasks in mice, we investigated the effect of pubertal immune challenge on the ability of estradiol to enhance cognitive function. We hypothesized that estradiol would be less effective at enhancing performance on particular cognitive tasks in female mice treated with LPS during puberty. Six-week old (pubertal) and ten-week old (adult) female CD1 mice were injected with either saline or LPS. Five weeks later, they were ovariectomized and implanted subcutaneously with either an estradiol- or oil-filled Silastic© capsule followed one week later with testing for cognitive function. The duration of juvenile investigation during social discrimination and recognition tests was used as a measure of social memory, and the duration of object investigation during object recognition and placement tests was used as a measure of object memory. Chronic estradiol treatment enhanced social and object memory in saline-treated females and in females treated with LPS in adulthood. In contrast, in females treated with LPS at 6 weeks old, estradiol failed to improve social and object memories. These results support the hypothesis that exposure to an immune challenge during puberty reduces at least some of the cognitive effects of estradiol. Moreover, these results support the idea that pubertal immune challenge compromises a wide variety of behavioral influences of ovarian hormones.
PMCID: PMC3604046  PMID: 23218519
Estradiol; hippocampus-dependent tasks; immune challenge; puberty
25.  Estrogen and Progesterone Affect Responses to Malaria Infection in Female C57BL/6 Mice 
Gender medicine  2008;5(4):423-433.
Previous data from our laboratory suggest that gonadally intact C57BL/6 male mice are more likely than their female counterparts to die from Plasmodium chabaudi infection, to recover more slowly from weight loss and hematocrit loss, and to have reduced interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin (IL)-10 responses. Removal of the ovaries, and hence, the primary production of sex steroids in females, reverses these differences.
We hypothesized that sex differences in response to P. chabaudi may be mediated by differential synthesis of IFN-γ and IL-10 that is influenced by estrogen, progesterone, or both.
C57BL/6 female mice ( n = 200; n = 10/time point/treatment/experiment) were ovariectomized (OVX) and implanted with either a 21-day controlled-release pellet containing 0.1 mg of 17β-estradiol (E2), 10 mg of progesterone (P4), 0.1 mg of E2 plus 10 mg of P4, or cholesterol (placebo). Females were inoculated with 106 P. chabaudi-infected erythrocytes. Body mass, body temperature, hematocrit, parasitemia, cytokine production, and antibody responses were monitored 0, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days postinoculation.
Administration of E2, either alone or in combination with P4, mitigated infection-induced weight loss, hematocrit loss, and hypothermia, as compared with females receiving placebo pellets (P < 0.05 in each case). Hormone treatment did not affect levels of parasitemia. Females administered E2 alone or in combination with P4 produced 50–150 times more IFN-γ and IL-10 during peak parasitemia than did females implanted with pellets containing either P4 alone or placebo (P < 0.05 in each case). Exposure to E2, either alone or in combination with P4, increased anti-P. chabaudi immunoglobulin G (IgG1) responses and the ratio of IgG1 to IgG2c (P < 0.05 in each case).
This animal study suggests that physiological levels of estrogen, rather than progesterone, enhance immunity and, possibly, protect females from disease symptoms during malaria infection.
PMCID: PMC4155322  PMID: 19108815
estrogen; interferon-γ; interleukin-10; malaria; progesterone; sex difference; sex steroid

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