Testosterone Attenuates Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell-Mediated Airway Inflammation

Jacqueline Yvonne Cephus, Matthew T. Stier, Hubaida Fuseini, Jeffrey A. Yung, Shinji Toki, Melissa H. Bloodworth, Weisong Zhou, Kasia Goleniewska, Jian Zhang, Sarah L. Garon, Robert G. Hamilton, Vasiliy V. Poloshukin, Kelli L. Boyd, R. Stokes Peebles, Dawn C. Newcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Sex hormones regulate many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, including asthma. As adults, asthma prevalence is 2-fold greater in women compared to men. The number of group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) is increased in patients with asthma, and we investigate how testosterone attenuates ILC2 function. In patients with moderate to severe asthma, we determine that women have an increased number of circulating ILC2 compared to men. ILC2 from adult female mice have increased IL-2-mediated ILC2 proliferation versus ILC2 from adult male mice, as well as pre-pubescent females and males. Further, 5α-dihydrotestosterone, a hormone downstream of testosterone, decreases lung ILC2 numbers and IL-5 and IL-13 expression from ILC2. In vivo, testosterone attenuated Alternaria-extract-induced IL-5+ and IL-13+ ILC2 numbers and lung eosinophils by intrinsically decreasing lung ILC2 numbers, as well as by decreasing expression of IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), ILC2-stimulating cytokines. Collectively, these findings provide a foundational understanding of sexual dimorphism in ILC2 function. Women have higher asthma prevalence compared to men, and ILC2 are increased in patients with asthma. Cephus et al. show that women with asthma have higher circulating ILC2 numbers compared to men with asthma. Testosterone negatively regulates ILC2 proliferation and cytokine expression, as well as ILC2-mediated allergic airway inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2487-2499
Number of pages13
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 28 2017


  • asthma
  • innate lymphoid cells
  • sex hormones
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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