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Morphine modulates lymph node-derived T lymphocyte function: role of caspase-3, -8, and nitric oxide

, : Morphine modulates lymph node-derived T lymphocyte function: role of caspase-3, -8, and nitric oxide. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 70(4): 527-536

The major objective of this paper is to characterize the mechanism by which morphine modulates lymphocyte function and if these effects are mediated through the mu-opioid receptor. We evaluated the in vitro effects of morphine on lymphocytes that were freshly isolated from lymph nodes from wild type (WT) and mu-opioid receptor knock-out (MORKO) mice. Results show that morphine inhibits Con A-induced lymph node T-cell proliferation and IL-2 and IFN-gamma synthesis in a dose-dependent manner. This effect was abolished in lymph node cells isolated from MORKO mice. The inhibition of T-cell function with low-dose morphine was associated with an increase in caspase-3- and caspase-8-mediated apoptosis. The inhibition of T-cell function with high-dose morphine was associated with an increase in the inducible NO synthase mRNA expression. N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) antagonized the apoptosis induced by high-dose morphine. Our results suggest that low-dose morphine, through the mu-opioid receptor, can induce lymph node lymphocyte apoptosis through the cleavage activity of caspase-3 and caspase-8. Morphine at high doses induces NO release. This effect of morphine is also mediated through the mu-opioid receptor present on the surface of macrophages.


PMID: 11590188

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