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Immunol Cell Biol. 1999 Oct;77(5):385-90.

Preproenkephalin is a Th2 cytokine but is not required for Th2 differentiation in vitro.

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Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, Wellington School of Medicine, Wellington, New


Preproenkephalin (PPNK) mRNA expression has been detected in many cells of the immune system, including monocytes and lymphocytes. In the present paper, the expression of PPNK mRNA in purified CD4+ Th1 and Th2 lymphocyte subpopulations is investigated and correlated with the presence of the opioid neuropeptides leu- and met-enkephalin. We found that PPNK mRNA and met-enkephalin were present at higher levels in the Th2 cultures compared with the Th1 cultures. Lymphocytes from PPNK-deficient mice were then used to look at the role of PPNK in Th2 lymphocyte differentiation. Lymphocytes from these mice could be driven into a Th2 phenotype, suggesting that cultures containing IL-4 do not require PPNK for Th2 differentiation.

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