17-beta estradiol alters the innate immune response to Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Maston, Essence Dominique
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Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control demonstrates that African American women, in particular young people between the ages of 14-25, have an increased incidence of infection with the sexually transmitted pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Estradiol is a key regulatory hormone in female reproductive function. It has been studied extensively in the cardiovascular field, and has been linked to breast and endometrial cancers in women. However, its impact on infectious diseases is largely unknown. Given what is known about the effect of estradiol on immunologic and inflammatory disorders in women, I hypothesize that estradiol alters the infectivity of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the female reproductive tract by altering the host inflammatory immune response. This may explain a risk factor for increased rates of infection in some populations. I sought to develop a relevant in vitro model. After screening a number of candidate cell lines, I selected the human endometrial adenocarcinoma cell line, Ishikawa. These cells express specific estrogen receptors and respond to exogenous estrogen stimulation. Estrogen treatment of Ishikawa cells did not have an impact on the invasion of N. gonorrhoeae, nor did it impact bacterial growth. However, gonococcal induced chemokine secretion was reduced by estrogen, as measured by interleukin-8 secretion. I conclude that estrogen blunts the inflammatory response to Neisseria gonorrhoeae without altering bacterial infectivity.