Impact of steroid hormones on immunity

Steroid hormones have long been recognized to play a critical role in regulating various aspects of the immune system, influencing both innate and adaptive immunity. The importance of steroid hormones in immune regulation is best exemplified by the role of glucocorticoids (e.g. cortisol), which are commonly used to suppress the immune system. In addition to glucocorticoids, other steroid hormones including sex hormones (in particular androgens) or vitamin D, were also shown to exert profound influence on the immune system. For instance, while it is well-established that females have generally more potent and robust immune responses than males and that low levels of vitamin D are linked with higher risk of infection and development of autoimmune disorders, the exact mechanisms detailing how androgens or vitamin D regulate the immune response and autoimmunity are incompletely understood. Therefore, our lab is also interested in addressing this specific question. To this end, we have developed several key experimental tools, including mouse models with tissue specific inactivation of either vitamin D receptor (VDR) or of androgen receptor (AR) or their corresponding fluorescent reporters (VDR-mCherry or AR-ZsGreen), which allow us to revisit and study their role in the immune system in a more comprehensive manner (in progress).