The aim of this study was to identify immune-related genes affected by treatment with 17β-estradiol (17β-E2) that contribute to protection of T cell antigen receptor double transgenic mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The Affymetrix microarray system was used to screen more than 12,000 genes from E2-treated mice protected from EAE vs. control mice with severe EAE. In general, E2 treatment affected about 10% of the genes tested, but only 18 cytokine, chemokine/receptor, adhesion molecule, or activation genes were up- or down-regulated more than 2.4-fold by E2 treatment. Down-regulated genes included TNFα (an important proinflammatory cytokine in EAE); peptidoglycan recognition proteins (Pgrp); regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES); and neural cell adhesion molecule (MCP-1). Up-regulated genes included cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4; known to inhibit T cell activation), TGF β3, IL-18, and two interferon-γ-induced genes, the chemokines: monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β (MIP-1β), vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM), and disintegrin metalloprotease (thought to regulate TNFα production). These results implicate a limited set of known and previously unsuspected E2-sensitive genes that may be crucial for inhibition of EAE and potentially the human disease, multiple sclerosis.
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