Immunoendocrinology: Faulty hormonal imprinting in the immune system

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Hormonal imprinting is an epigenetic process which is taking place perinatally at the first encounter between the developing hormone receptors and their target hormones. The hormonal imprinting influences the binding capacity of receptors, the hormone synthesis of the cells, and other hormonally regulated functions, as sexual behavior, aggressivity, empathy, etc. However, during the critical period, when the window for imprinting is open, molecules similar to the physiological imprinters as synthetic hormone analogs, other members of the hormone families, environmental pollutants, etc. can cause faulty imprinting with life-long consequences. The developing immune system, the cells of which also have receptors for hormones, is very sensitive to faulty imprinting, which causes alterations in the antibody and cytokine production, in the ratio of immune cells, in the defense against bacterial and viral infections as well as against malginant tumors. Immune cells (lymphocytes, monocytes, granulocytes and mast cells) are also producing hormones which are secreted into the blood circulation as well as are transported locally (packed transport). This process is also disturbed by faulty imprinting. As immune cells are differentiating during the whole life, faulty imprinting could develop any time, however, the most decisive is the perinatal imprinting. The faulty imprinting is inherited to the progenies in general and especially in the case of immune system. In our modern world the number and amount of arteficial imprinters (e.g. endocrine disruptors and drugs) are enormously increasing. The effects of the faulty imprinters most dangerous to the immune system are shown in the paper. The present and future consequences of the flood of faulty imprintings are unpredictable however, it is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalActa microbiologica et immunologica Hungarica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2014



  • endocrine disruptors
  • epigenetic inheritance
  • hormonal imprinting
  • hormones
  • immunity
  • perinatal effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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