Sex steroids, APOE genotype and the innate immune system.
Microglia are a primary cellular component of the CNS innate immune system. Their response to conserved pathogen motifs is inherent and leads to the release of cytoactive factors that impact surrounding neurons and glia. The microglial response is modified by the local tissue environment and by "global" factors such as gender. Exposure to estrogen and testosterone, in general, down regulate microglia and peripheral macrophage function, promoting an anti-inflammatory phenotype. Other global factors, however, can "override" the gender-based effects demonstrated by estrogen or testosterone. Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and the expression of specific isoforms of apolipoprotein E differentially regulate microglial and peripheral macrophage function. Our studies have shown that the presence of the APOE4 gene, a known risk factor for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases, promotes a pro-inflammatory macrophage phenotype in neonatal microglia. However, in adult mice, the APOE genotype-specific effect depends on gender. Peritoneal macrophages from female adult APOE3 and APOE4 targeted replacement mice do not demonstrate an APOE genotype-specific response, whereas adult male APOE4 targeted replacement mice show enhanced macrophage responsiveness compared to adult male APOE3 mice. At least part of the altered macrophage response in APOE4 male mice may be due to differences in androgen receptor sensitivity to testosterone. These data re-enforce the concept that classical activation in macrophages has multiple levels of regulation, dictated by competing or synergistic factors and genotype.
Colton, CA; Brown, CM; Vitek, MP
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