Steroids as regulators of the mammalian immune response

R. A. Daynes, B. A. Araneo, J. Hennebold, E. Enioutina, H. H. Mu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The mammalian immune system is multicellular in composition, and its proper function requires careful control over complex developmental pathways and many distinct types of effector responses. Numerous overlapping mechanisms of intercellular communication are needed to accomplish the tasks of proper regulation of the diverse cell types that constitute this essential protective system. One mechanism occurs by direct cell-to-cell contact through the interaction of membrane-associated molecules. Examples of this type of communication include the interaction that takes place between the antigen-specific T-cell receptor and the foreign peptides that are bound to major histocompatibility complex molecules, as well as costimulatory molecule interactions with their specific ligands expressed on antigen-presenting cells (e.g., CD28 and B7-1 or B7-2). A second mechanism occurs through the production, secretion, and activities of soluble mediators, collectively known as the cytokines. The cytokines are represented by a large and diverse group of molecules that are produced by a wide variety of cell types. Unique species of cytokines bind to specific membrane-associated receptors on target cells, inducing the activation of particular signal-transduction pathways. These processes subsequently lead to the diversity of cytokine-linked changes in cellular physiology. Some of the cytokines exert-their influences in vivo via endocrine routes, although it is far more common for intercellular communication via cytokines to occur microenvironmentally via paracrine or autocrine pathways. The object of this review is to provide evidence supporting the concept that one mechanism for upstream regulation of cytokine production by immunocompetent cell types is controlled by the regulatory activities of various steroid hormones. Strain variation in susceptibility to infectious agents, the condition of immunosenescence, and the processes that control the development of common mucosal immunity are used as examples of immune mechanisms that may be under steroid hormone control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S14-S19
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • 1α,25 dihydroxyvitamin D
  • Cytokines
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Glucocorticoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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