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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Plasmacytoid dendritic cell interferon-α production to R-848 stimulation is decreased in male infants

Jennifer P Wang*, Lei Zhang, Rachel F Madera, Marcia Woda and Daniel H Libraty

Author Affiliations

Division of Infectious Disease and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 364 Plantation, Worcester, MA, 01605, USA

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BMC Immunology 2012, 13:35  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-13-35

Published: 6 July 2012



Sex differences in response to microbial infections, especially viral ones, may be associated with Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated responses by plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs).


In this study, we identified sex differences in human infant pDC interferon-α production following challenge with the TLR7/8 agonist R-848. Male pDC responses were significantly lower than those of females during early infancy. This difference may be attributed to the androgen surge experienced by males during the early infancy period. Pretreatment of human pDCs with dihydrotestosterone produced a significant reduction in interferon-α production following R-848 challenge.


Androgen-mediated regulation of pDC TLR7-driven innate immune responses may contribute to the observed sex differences in response to infections during early infancy.

pDC; IFN-α; TNF-α; Infant; TLR7