It is well known that the immune function can be compromised by stress. To investigate immune function in mice stressed by experimental restraint or unavoidable and opioid dependent stress, we evaluated the changes in total body weight and in organ weights (liver, spleen and thymus) of these animals, as well as the phagocytic activity of macrophages, the cytotoxicity of T cell and inhibitory effects on tumor growth and changes in T cell subset populations. At the same time we evaluated the effects of Neurotropin (NSP), a substance extracted from the inflamed skin of rabbits inoculated with the vaccinia virus and which appears to possess neuroimmunomodulating activity. The experimentally stressed group exhibited a reduction of phagocytic activity of macrophages, cytotoxicity of T cells and inhibitory effects on tumor growth. In addition there were changes in the population of T cell subsets. In those animals pretreated with NSP, the immunosuppression induced by stress was ameliorated. As compared with several agents which influence phagocytosis, neurotropin exhibited effects similar to that of agents that blocked the adrenaline receptor and an opioid antagonist rather than tranquilizer (diazepam) and a cholinergic receptor blocker. The pharmacologic effects of neurotropin support a relationship between the actions of the central nervous system and the immune system.
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