Research

Testosterone inhibits defence against amoebas

Men suffer amoebic liver abscesses four times more frequently than women. This is also the case for the mice we use as models for human disease.

Using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT), one can image amoebic liver abscesses (shown as dotted red line) also in mice. If female animals are administered testosterone, the abscesses become larger (Illustration: Thomas Ernst and Hanna Lotter).
Using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT), one can image amoebic liver abscesses (shown as dotted red line) also in mice. If female animals are administered testosterone, the abscesses become larger (Illustration: Thomas Ernst and Hanna Lotter).

Radical removing the gonads of male mice makes them partially resistant to amoebas, and injections of testosterone make female mice more susceptible. Interferon (IFNγ) strengthens resistance to amoebas, and immune cells producing IFNγ – the naturally-occurring killer cells – of female mice produced more IFNγ than those of their male counterparts.

 


Lotter H. et al, PLoS One 2013, 8:e55694.

Hanna Lotter, Elena Helk, Hannah Bernin, Egbert Tannich, Thomas Jacobs, and external cooperation partners (see publication)