Accelerated immune senescence and reduced response to vaccination in ovariectomized female rhesus macaques.
Aging is associated with a general dysregulation in immune function, commonly referred to as "immune senescence". Several studies have shown that female sex steroids can modulate the immune response. However, the impact of menopause-associated loss of estrogen and progestins on immune senescence remains poorly understood. To help answer this question, we examined the effect of ovariectomy on T-cell homeostasis and function in adult and aged female rhesus macaques. Our data show that in adult female rhesus macaques, ovariectomy increased the frequency of naïve CD4 T cells. In contrast, ovariectomized (ovx) aged female rhesus macaques had increased frequency of terminally differentiated CD4 effector memory T cells and inflammatory cytokine-secreting memory T cells. Moreover, ovariectomy reduced the immune response (T-cell cytokine and IgG production) following vaccination with modified vaccinia ankara in both adult and aged female rhesus macaques compared to ovary-intact age-matched controls. Interestingly, hormone therapy (estradiol alone or in conjunction with progesterone) partially improved the T-cell response to vaccination in aged ovariectomized female rhesus macaques. These data suggest that the loss of ovarian steroids, notably estradiol and progesterone, may contribute to reduced immune function in post-menopausal women and that hormone therapy may improve immune response to vaccination in this growing segment of the population.
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