We investigated the modulatory effect of estriol (E(3)), an estrogen predominantly produced during human pregnancy, on the antigen-induced production of specific antibodies in female BALB/c mice, and its effect was compared with 17beta-estradiol (E(2)). Estriol (E(3)) had a very different effect than E(2) on the antigen-induced production of specific antibodies in animals immunized with two different antigens, i.e., the bovine serum albumin (BSA) and pneumococcal polysaccharide serotype-14 (PPS-14). While E(2) strongly stimulated the production of BSA-specific antibodies (mostly IgG1), E(3) had little or no effect on their production. In comparison, when the bacterial PPS-14 was the immunogen, E(3) and E(2) both strongly increased the production of PPS-14-specific antibodies (mostly IgM). E(3) and E(2) also had a similar effect on the thymus weight reduction and on the spontaneous antibody production in these animals. Our results provided an example demonstrating that the pregnancy hormone E(3) has a distinctly different profile of modulatory actions in the immune system compared to E(2), while the former strongly enhanced the body's ability to produce bacteria-specific IgM antibodies, it had no effect on the production of specific antibodies against a soluble protein. This differential effect of E(3) may be beneficial for reducing the risk of developing antibody-mediated immune attack against the maternal and fetal elements during pregnancy.
Ding J, Zhu BT. Unique effect of the pregnancy hormone estriol on antigen-induced production of specific antibodies in female BALB/c mice. Steroids. 2008 March Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.