Effect of Acetylcholine on Mitogen Response of Peripheral Lymphocytes Isolated From Rats Exposed to Chronic Stress

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The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of acetylcholine (Ach) on lymphocyte function in rats under chronic stress. The authors isolated peripheral lymphocytes from rats 5 weeks after stress treatment and then measured interleukin-2 (IL-2) production after stimulation with concanavalin A or phytohemagglutinin-L. Although mitogen-induced IL-2 production of the stress group was lower than that of the control group, the addition of Ach significantly increased mitogen-induced IL-2 production in both groups. This effect of Ach was inhibited by atropine in the control group only. The changes (increasing rates) in mitogen-induced IL-2 production from basal condition showed a negative correlation with serum corticosterone concentrations. The authors observed no correlation between the effects of Ach (changes in mitogen-induced IL-2 production with Ach compared to those without Ach) and serum corticosterone concentration. These findings suggest that stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system improves lymphocyte function during chronic stress.

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