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Neuroimmunomodulation. 2013;20(1):1-8. doi: 10.1159/000343099. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Lymphocyte-derived catecholamines induce a shift of Th1/Th2 balance toward Th2 polarization.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Nantong University, Nantong, PR China.



Our previous work has shown that lymphocytes synthesize and secrete catecholamines (CAs), which regulate lymphocyte proliferation and apoptosis. In the present study, we explored the effect of the lymphocyte-derived CAs on differentiation and function of T helper (Th) cells.


Lymphocytes were separated from the mesenteric lymph nodes of mice and stimulated by concanavalin A (Con A). These cells were treated with alpha-methyl-p- tyrosine (α-MT), an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) that is a rate-limiting enzyme for synthesis of CAs, and pargyline, an inhibitor of monoamine oxidase that degrades CAs.


Treatment of Con A-stimulated lymphocytes with α-MT (10(-6) M) reduced CAs both in the cultured lymphocytes and in the culture supernatants. Simultaneously, α-MT upregulated expression of mRNAs and proteins of T-box expressed in T cells (T-bet) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) but downregulated expression of mRNAs and proteins of GATA binding protein 3 (GATA-3) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) in Con A-activated lymphocytes. In contrast, pargyline (10(-6) M) increased intracellular and supernatant CA contents in Con A-activated lymphocytes. Meanwhile, the treatment with pargyline downregulated expression of T-bet and IFN-γ but upregulated expression of GATA-3 and IL-4 in these lymphocytes.


CAs synthesized and secreted by lymphocytes regulate differentiation and function of Th cells, with an effect facilitating the shift of Th1/Th2 balance toward Th2 polarization.

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