Steroid Hormones and Their Effect on the Immune System
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Steroid hormones, which include glucocorticoids and the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, possess immunomodulatory roles that include effects on T- and B-cell development, lymphoid organ size, lymphocyte cell death, immune function, and susceptibility to autoimmune disease. Steroid hormones are lipophilic compounds derived from cholesterol metabolism, which typically mediate their biological activity by binding to an intracellular cytosolic receptor. Hormone binding to its receptor causes the receptor to translocate to the nucleus where it forms a homodimer with another ligand-activated receptor. The steroid receptor homodimer will then bind to specific DNA sequences in steroid-responsive genes modulating their transcription (Fig. 1) (Ashwell et al. 2000; Hall et al. 2001; Olsen and...
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