DES alters positive and negative selection of T cells in the thymus and modulates T-cell repertoire in the periphery

Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) is known to cause altered immune functions and increased susceptibility to autoimmune disease in humans

2006 Study Abstract

In the current study, we investigated the effects of DES on T-cell differentiation in the thymus using the HY-TCR transgenic (Tg) mouse model in which the female mice exhibit positive selection of T cells bearing the Tg TCR, while the male mice show negative selection of such T cells. In female HY-TCR-Tg mice, exposure to DES showed more pronounced decrease in thymic cellularity when compared to male mice. Additionally, female mice also showed a significant decrease in the proportion of double-positive (DP) T cells in the thymus and HY-TCR-specific CD8+ T cells in the periphery. Male mice exhibiting negative selection also showed decreased thymic cellularity following DES exposure. Moreover, the male mice showed increased proportion of double-negative (DN) T cells in the thymus and decreased proportion of CD8+ T cells. The density of expression of HY-TCR on CD8+ cells was increased following DES exposure in both females and males. Finally, the proliferative response of thymocytes to mitogens and peripheral lymph node T cells to male H-Y antigen was significantly altered in female and male mice following DES treatment.

Taken together, these data suggest that DES alters T-cell differentiation in the thymus by interfering with positive and negative selection processes, which in turn modulates the T-cell repertoire in the periphery.

  • Diethylstilbestrol alters positive and negative selection of T cells in the thymus and modulates T-cell repertoire in the periphery, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Toxicology and applied pharmacology, NCBI PubMed PMID : 16122773, 2006 Apr.
  • Featured image credit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

4 Replies to “DES alters positive and negative selection of T cells in the thymus and modulates T-cell repertoire in the periphery”

  1. What are the consequences of the mechanism described in this article? To which health complaints could this lead?
    I’m asking since I highly suspect that my mother took DES during her pregnancy and I recently suffered from CD8+ peripheral T-cell lymphoma.

    1. Hi Linda
      I am neither scientist neither doctor… just a blogger, focusing on DES studies.

      I think this study tries to explain why and/or how DES alters immune functions and increases susceptibility to autoimmune disease (in humans).
      There is another similar study – about T-cells – here.

      You’ll get a better idea regarding the DES link with autoimmune disease, immune-related diseases by reading these .

  2. Thanks for your reply. I read all the research papers I could find about the subject today, on your site and on Pubmed as well. I didn’t find an answer but got a whole lot wiser about T-cells and the like. I think I will have to accept that I’ll never know exactly know what caused what (I also have an autoimmune disease or two). Most important right now is to get my suspicion of my mother having used DES checked..

    Anyhow, you’re building a great database here, it’s very useful for someone like me who is diving into DES and its consequences, thanks a lot for that!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Linda, glad it was useful.

      My analysis while surfing on other specialized websites:
      – not all DES studies were always accessible, mentioned and/or linked to.
      – studies are usually mixed between each other (either dates or topics) making it difficult for a reader to dig deeper into a specific subject.

      My long term project is to complete this page – and some “categories” are now more deeply covered that what you’ll find elsewhere


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