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Demas G.E.,the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior
General and Comparative Endocrinology

Mounting an immune response requires a relatively substantial investment of energy and marked reductions in energy availability can suppress immune function and presumably increase disease susceptibility. We have previously demonstrated that a moderate reduction in energy stores by partial surgical lipectomy impairs humoral immunity of Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) and is mediated, in part, by changes in the adipose tissue hormone leptin. The goals of the present study were to assess the role of leptin in cell-mediated immunity and to determine if the potential effects of leptin on immunity are via the direct actions of this hormone on lymphocytes, or indirect, via the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). In Experiment 1, hamsters received osmotic minipumps containing either murine leptin (0.5 μl/h) or vehicle alone for 10 days and splenocyte proliferation in response to the T-cell mitogen Concanavalin A (Con A) was determined. In Experiment 2, Con A-induced splenocyte proliferation was tested in the presence or absence of leptin in vitro. In Experiment 3, exogenous leptin was administered to intact or sympathetically denervated hamsters. Hamsters treated with in vivo leptin displayed increased splenocyte proliferation compared with control hamsters receiving vehicle. In contrast, in vitro leptin had no effect on splenocyte proliferation. Sympathetic denervation attenuated, but did not block, leptin-induced increases in immunity. Taken together, these results are consistent with the idea that leptin can enhance cell-mediated immunity; the SNS appears to contribute, least in part, to leptin-induced increases in immunity. Importantly, these findings confirm previous studies that leptin serves as an important endocrine link between energy balance and immunity. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Source

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