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J Leukoc Biol. 2000 Apr;67(4):553-8.

Neurotransmitters of the sympathetic nerve terminal are powerful chemoattractants for monocytes.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University Medical Center, Regensburg, Germany.


Macrophages in lymphoid organs are in close contact to nerve terminals of the sympathetic nervous system. Hence, these cells could be targets of neuronal modulation. We studied sympathetic neurotransmitters as chemoattractants enabling the aggregation of macrophages and nerve terminals. Norepinephrine (NE), neuropeptide Y (NPY), isoproterenol (beta-adrenergic), p-aminoclonidine (alpha2-adrenergic), methoxamine (alpha1-adrenergic), and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) were used to study human monocyte and macrophage migration in 48-well Boyden chambers. NE stimulated chemotaxis of monocytes and macrophages at an optimal concentration of 10-(10) M (P < 0.025). Isoproterenol, but not p-aminoclonidine or methoxamine, induced chemotaxis of monocytes (10(-10) M, P < 0.05). In these studies, elevation of cAMP is a critical step in NE-induced chemotaxis of monocytes. NPY (10(-11) M, P < 0.05) stimulated monocyte chemotaxis as well. ATP at 10(-4) and 10(-5) M stimulated undirected cell mobility (P < 0.05). All tested neurotransmitters of the sympathetic nerve terminal were potent chemoattractants. These findings may explain the close association of nerves and macrophages in tissue and lymphoid organs and may thus be of functional relevance in neuroimmunomodulation.

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