Authors: Becerra-Diaz M, Strickland AB, Keselman A, Heller NM

PMID: 30305328 PMCID: PMC6219904 DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1800352


Allergic asthma is a disease initiated by a breach of the lung mucosal barrier and an inappropriate Th2 inflammatory immune response that results in M2 polarization of alveolar macrophages (AM). The number of M2 macrophages in the airway correlates with asthma severity in humans. Sex differences in asthma suggest that sex hormones modify lung inflammation and macrophage polarization. Asthmatic women have more M2 macrophages than asthmatic men and androgens have been used as an experimental asthma treatment. In this study, we demonstrate that although androgen (dihydrotestosterone) reconstitution of castrated mice reduced lung inflammation in a mouse model of allergic lung inflammation, it enhanced M2 polarization of AM. This indicates a cell-specific role for androgens. Dihydrotestosterone also enhanced IL-4-stimulated M2 macrophage polarization in vitro. Using mice lacking androgen receptor (AR) in monocytes/macrophages (ARfloxLysMCre), we found that male but not female mice exhibited less eosinophil recruitment and lung inflammation due to impaired M2 polarization. There was a reduction in eosinophil-recruiting chemokines and IL-5 in AR-deficient AM. These data reveal an unexpected and novel role for androgen/AR in promoting M2 macrophage polarization. Our findings are also important for understanding pathology in diseases promoted by M2 macrophages and androgens, such as asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, and prostate cancer, and for designing new approaches to treatment.

Keywords: Androgen, Androgen Receptor, M2 Macrophage Polarization, Allergic asthma