Dendritic cells and macrophages in the pituitary and the gonads. Evidence for their role in the fine regulation of the reproductive endocrine response.
Hoek A, Allaerts W, Leenen PJ, Schoemaker J, Drexhage HA
Department of Immunology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Blood monocytes are able to mature into macrophages as well as into dendritic cells. Dendritic cells and macrophages have mainly been studied for their function in the immune response, e.g. in the presentation of antigens to lymphocytes and in the phagocytosis/degradation of unwanted material. The cells are also, however, important producers of a variety of signalling molecules and hormones and are thus involved in other physiological functions such as wound healing, the regulation of the microcirculation and the regulation of the function and growth of endocrine cells. This review summarizes the existing evidence for a regulatory role of dendritic cells and macrophages in the function and growth of hormone-producing cells of the pituitary-gonadal axis. It focuses on the presence, localization and phenotype of dendritic cells and macrophages in the anterior pituitary and the gonads, the endocrine regulatory role of cytokines produced by these cells and the existence of putative feedback mechanisms between endocrine cells of the pituitary-gonadal axis and dendritic cells and macrophages. The recognition of a ‘floating endocrine-regulatory force’ of monocyte-derived cells that also plays a role in the initiation of immune responses has implications for our understanding of the pathogenesis of gonadal and pituitary autoimmune reactions.
Eur. J. Endocrinol. (1997)
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