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J Neuroimmunol. 2002 Oct;131(1-2):126-34.

Increased splenocyte proliferative response and cytokine production in beta-endorphin-deficient mice.

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Laboratorio de Fisiología y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (FCEN), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad Universitaria, Pabellon II, C1428EHA, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


We used beta-endorphin-deficient mice as a novel approach to confirm the physiological role that opioid peptides play in the development or regulation of the immune system. We found that mice lacking beta-endorphin possessed an enhanced immune response, measured in terms of splenocyte proliferation and interleukin (IL)-2 mRNA levels, in vitro production of the splenic macrophage inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-alpha and plasma IL-6 following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration. beta-Endorphin-deficient mice had attenuated increases of plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels in response to LPS. These results are consistent with a postulated inhibitory role of endogenous beta-endorphin on the immune system at multiple levels.

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