Sex Steroids Influence Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor Secretion From Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells

Sheng Yu Wang, Michelle R. Freeman, Venkatachalem Sathish, Michael A. Thompson, Christina M. Pabelick, Y. S. Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is emerging as an important player in airway inflammation, remodeling, and hyperreactivity. Separately, there is increasing evidence that sex hormones contribute to pathophysiology in the lung. BDNF and sex steroid signaling are thought to be intricately linked in the brain. There is currently little information on BDNF and sex steroid interactions in the airway but is relevant to understanding growth factor signaling in the context of asthma in men versus women. In this study, we assessed the effect of sex steroids on BDNF expression and secretion in human airway smooth muscle (ASM). Human ASM was treated with estrogen (E2) or testosterone (T, 10nM each) and intracellular BDNF and secreted BDNF measured. E2 and T significantly reduced secretion of BDNF; effects prevented by estrogen and androgen receptor inhibitor, ICI 182,780 (1μM), and flutamide (10μM), respectively. Interestingly, no significant changes were observed in intracellular BDNF mRNA or protein expression. High affinity BDNF receptor, TrkB, was not altered by E2 or T. E2 (but not T) significantly increased intracellular cyclic AMP levels. Notably, Epac1 and Epac2 expression were significantly reduced by E2 and T. Furthermore, SNARE complex protein SNAP25 was decreased. Overall, these novel data suggest that physiologically relevant concentrations of E2 or T inhibit BDNF secretion in human ASM, suggesting a potential interaction of sex steroids with BDNF in the airway that is different from brain. The relevance of sex steroid-BDNF interactions may lie in their overall contribution to airway diseases such as asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1586-1592
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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