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Developmental Immunology
Volume 6 (1998), Issue 3-4, Pages 245-252

Adrenergic/Cholinergic Immunomodulation in the Rat Model—In Vivo Veritas?

1lnstitute of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Graz, Austria
2Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Received 1 October 1996; Accepted 10 February 1997

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


For several years, our group has been studying the in vivo role of adrenergic and cholinergic mechanisms in the immune-neuroendocrine dialogue in the rat model. The main results of these studies can be summarized as follows: (1) exogenous or endogenous catecholamines suppress PBL functions through alpha-2-receptor-mediated mechanisms, lymphocytes of the spleen are resistant to adrenergic in vivo stimulation, (2) direct or indirect cholinergic treatment leads to enhanced ex vivo functions of splenic and thymic lymphocytes leaving PBL unaffected, (3) cholinergic pathways play a critical role in the “talking back” of the immune system to the brain, (4) acetylcholine inhibits apoptosis of thymocytes possibly via direct effects on thymic epithelial cells, and may thereby influence T-cell maturation, (5) lymphocytes of the various immunological compartments were found to be equipped with the key enzymes for the synthesis of both acetylcholine and norepinephrine, and to secrete these neurotransmitters in culture supernatants