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Interaction of cholera toxin and toxin derivatives with lymphocytes. II. Modulating effects of cholera toxin on in vivo humoral and cellular immune responses.


The in vivo effects of cholera toxin on lymphoid organ structure and function in mice were investigated. It was found that within a day following intravenous injection of 1 mug of toxin, thymus as well as spleen weight decreased but the animals remained healthy. Histological studies suggested that the involution of lymphoid organs was due to cell death. Injection of cholera toxin into adrenalectomized mice was lethal within 36 h. In these animals no decrease in lymphoid organ weight was noted. Thymus cells from toxin-treated mice were found to be much inferior to thymocytes of untreated animals in their in vitro response to Concanavalin A, whereas the response of spleen cells from toxin-treated animals to mitogens was slightly increased. 1 mug of cholera toxin increased primary antibody formation when given to mice together with antigen (sheep erythrocytes) and decreased primary antibody formation when given before or after the antigen. The toxin also increased secondary antibody formation when injected simultaneously with or after the booster antigen dose, and decreased the antibody formation when given a few days before the booster injection. Treatment of mice with toxin was found to increase the capacity of spleen cells from these animals to induce the parental effect on antibody formation and to induce graft-versus-host reactions. The mechanisms behind the observed effects are discussed. It is suggested that cholera toxin affects different types of cells involved in immune responses primarily by a direct inhibitory action on cellular proliferation but also indirectly by causing release of adrenal gland hormones.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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