Diethylstilbestrol alters positive and negative selection of T cells in the thymus and modulates T-cell repertoire in the periphery
Brown, N.; Nagarkatti, M.; Nagarkatti, P.S.
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 212(2): 119-126
Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) is known to cause altered immune functions and increased susceptibility to autoimmune disease in humans. In the current study, we investigated the effects of DES on T-cell differentiation in the thymus using the HY-TCR transgenic (Tg) mouse model in which the female mice exhibit positive selection of T cells bearing the Tg TCR, while the male mice show negative selection of such T cells. In female HY-TCR-Tg mice, exposure to DES showed more pronounced decrease in thymic cellularity when compared to male mice. Additionally, female mice also showed a significant decrease in the proportion of double-positive (DP) T cells in the thymus and HY-TCR-specific CD8+ T cells in the periphery. Male mice exhibiting negative selection also showed decreased thymic cellularity following DES exposure. Moreover, the male mice showed increased proportion of double-negative (DN) T cells in the thymus and decreased proportion of CD8+ T cells. The density of expression of HY-TCR on CD8+ cells was increased following DES exposure in both females and males. Finally, the proliferative response of thymocytes to mitogens and peripheral lymph node T cells to male H-Y antigen was significantly altered in female and male mice following DES treatment. Taken together, these data suggest that DES alters T-cell differentiation in the thymus by interfering with positive and negative selection processes, which in turn modulates the T-cell repertoire in the periphery.