Estrogen suppresses stromal cell-dependent lymphopoiesis in culture

Glennda Smithson, Kay Medina, Ian Ponting, Paul W. Kincade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Numbers of pre-B cells change dramatically and reciprocally in response to estrogen levels in mice, suggesting that normal lymphopoiesis may be under hormonal control. However, little is known of the mechanisms involved in this process. We found that estrogen receptor mRNA was detectable by RT-PCR in lymphocyte supporting stromal cells as well as B lymphocyte precursors. Unlike glucocorticoids, estrogen did not induce apoptosis in isolated B lineage lymphocytes or interfere with their responsiveness to IL-7 in semisolid agar. Estrogen did inhibit clonal expansion of B cell precursors in a limiting dilution-type assay when the lymphocytes were cultured on a stromal cell clone. In other experiments, B cell precursors at particular stages of differentiation were isolated by cell sorting and cocultured with stromal cells for 4 days. This revealed that some subsets were more sensitive to an estrogen-containing environment than others. Although numbers of recovered cells were greatly reduced, the remaining lymphocytes had undergone relatively normal differentiation. The surviving population was enriched in cells that had acquired cytoplasmic μ chains, BP-1 Ag, and clonability with IL-7. Hormone-mediated inhibition occurred in serum and phenol-red free medium, and in cultures replete with IL-7. Direct contact between stromal cells and lymphocytes was not required. Furthermore, suppression resulted when stromal cells alone were treated with the hormone. These findings indicate that estrogen may regulate B lymphopoiesis via its influence on the microenvironment and that estrogen-induced stromal cell genes merit further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3409-3417
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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