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J Immunol. 2009 Feb 15;182(4):2485-91. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803023.

Plasma osteopontin modulates chronic restraint stress-induced thymus atrophy by regulating stress hormones: inhibition by an anti-osteopontin monoclonal antibody.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Cell and Developmental Biology, The State University of New Jersey, Nelson Biological Laboratories, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Osteopontin (OPN) is a cytokine implicated in mediating responses to certain stressors, including mechanical, oxidative, and cellular stress. However, the involvement of OPN in responding to other physical and psychological stress is largely unexplored. Our previous research revealed that OPN is critical for hind limb-unloading induced lymphoid organ atrophy through modulation of corticosteroid production. In this study, we demonstrate that OPN(-/-) mice are resistant to chronic restraint stress (CRS)-induced lymphoid (largely thymus) organ atrophy; additionally, the stress-induced up-regulation of corticosterone production is significantly reduced in OPN(-/-) mice. Underlying this observation is the fact that normal adrenocorticotropic hormone levels are substantially reduced in the OPN(-/-) mice. Our data demonstrate both that injection of OPN into OPN-deficient mice enhances the CRS-induced lymphoid organ atrophy and that injection of a specific anti-OPN mAb (2C5) into wild-type mice ameliorates the CRS-induced organ atrophy; changes in corticosterone levels were also partially reversed. These studies reveal that circulating OPN plays a significant role in the regulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis hormones and that it augments CRS-induced organ atrophy.

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