Anti-inflammatory effects of androgens in human vagina
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) affects approximately 50% of postmenopausal women. It is characterised by vulvovaginal atrophy and lower urinary tract symptoms which adversely affect sexual health and general well- being. These symptoms are primarily a consequence of reduced oestrogens at menopause. However, androgens, which also decline with age, are increasingly recognised as important regulators of genitourinary tissue function. Importantly, androgen treatment may have beneficial effects in the vagina by modulating inflammatory responses. Maseroli and colleagues investigated whether androgens could modulate the inflammatory response in the vagina by assessing human vaginal tissues and human distal vagina smooth muscle cells isolated from postmenopausal women.
They investigated the expression of sex steroid receptors and assessed the effect of the selective androgen receptor agonist dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on inflammatory responses. The authors found that androgen receptor was expressed in vaginal smooth muscle cells and that DHT reduced basal secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. DHT also decreased secretion of cytokines induced by the pro-inflammatory stimulus lipopolysaccharide. These results suggests that androgens have an anti-inflammatory effect on vaginal smooth muscle cells which may have therapeutic benefit in the treatment of GSM.
Read the full article in Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 65 109-124