Am J Pathol. 2004 Jan; 164(1): 167-75
Fillmore PD, Blankenhorn EP, Zachary JF, Teuscher C.
Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois.
Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are characterized by strong sexual dimorphisms, many of which may be due to genetically controlled sex hormone effects on the immune system, the central nervous system (CNS), or both.
In the present study we used 487 gonadectomized and 376 intact age-matched F(2) mice generated through crosses of B10.S/SgMcdJ and SJL/J mice to assess the role of adult gonadal hormones in regulating clinical and histopathological quantitative traits (QT) associated with EAE in the context of genetic heterogeneity.
We found that gonadectomy resulted in different effects, depending on the QT and the sex of the mouse.
Ovariectomized mice on average had lower cumulative clinical disease scores, shorter duration of clinical signs, and increased peak disease scores.
This trend was accompanied by a significant increase in the incidence of acute, progressive EAE which is more frequently seen in intact and orchiectomized males.
Although spinal cord (SC) inflammation was the better predictor of clinical signs of EAE in both sexes, ovariectomized females had considerable reductions in nearly all histopathological QT in both the brain and SC.
Orchiectomy resulted in modestly significant increases in disease severity and peak score and earlier onset of clinical signs.
With the exception of SC demyelination and lesion scores, orchiectomy had no effect on histopathological QT.
Importantly, gonadectomy reduced but did not completely abolish any of the sexually dimorphic clinical QT seen in intact mice.
It did however, lead to a significant sexual dimorphism in incidence and severity not seen in intact mice.
For histopathological QT, no sexual dimorphism was detected for brain lesions in either intact or gonadectomized mice.
In contrast, SC histopathological QT exhibited significant sexual dimorphisms, which were impacted by gonadectomy.
The results from this study indicate that within the context of genetic heterogeneity, circulating gonadal hormones influence both clinical and histopathological QT in this model of MS, but they do not solely account for the sexual dimorphisms seen in these traits.
Thus, additional mechanisms must play a role in regulating gender differences in autoimmune disease of the CNS.