The effects of sex hormones on the in vitro chemotaxis of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) and monocytes were investigated using fMLP as the chemoattractant. PMNs, monocytes, and plasma were obtained from heparinized peripheral blood of healthy adults. Chemotaxis of PMNs or monocytes treated with sex hormones were tested using 48-well chemotaxis microchambers. The correlation between sex hormone levels in plasma and the chemotactic ability of PMNs from the same donor was also investigated. The chemotaxis of PMNs was enhanced by progesterone, while it was reduced by estradiol. Random migration of PMNs was also enhanced by progesterone and reduced by estradiol. The effect of estradiol on PMN chemotaxis was inhibited by addition of antiestrogens or progesterone. Testosterone did not have a measurable effect on PMN chemotaxis. A significant positive correlation was found between the concentration of progesterone in plasma of females and PMN chemotactic ability in vitro. For males, there was no significant relationship between plasma levels of sex hormones and PMN chemotactic ability. Estradiol and testosterone levels in plasma did not correlate with PMN chemotactic ability. Sex hormones had no effect on the chemotaxis of monocytes. These results suggest that the altered PMN chemotaxis associated with gingival inflammation may be due to the effects of sex hormones.
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