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Bioessays. 2001 Mar;23(3):288-94.

Anterior pituitary hormones, stress, and immune system homeostasis.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


An extensive, and controversial, literature concluding that prolactin (PRL), growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and thyroid hormones are critical immunoregulatory factors has accumulated. However, recent studies of mice deficient in the production of these hormones or expression of their receptors indicate that there are only a few instances in which these hormones are required for lymphocyte development or antigen responsiveness. Instead, a case is made that their primary role is to counteract the effects of negative immunoregulatory factors, such as glucocorticoids, which are produced when the organism is subjected to major stressors. The immunoprotective actions of PRL, GH, IGF-I, and/or thyroid hormones in these instances may ensure immune system homeostasis and reduce the susceptibility to stress-induced disease. These immuno-enhancing effects could be exploited clinically in instances where the immune system is depressed due to illness or various treatment regimens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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