Inhibition of lymphocyte activation by catecholamines: Evidence for a non-classical mechanism of catecholamine action

J. M. Cook-Mills, R. L. Cohen, R. L. Perlman, D. A. Chambers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The effects of noradrenaline and other adrenergic agonists on lymphocyte activation were studied. Spleen and thymus cells from BALB/c mice were stimulated by mitogens and lymphocyte activation was monitored by measuring the incorporation of [methyl-3H]thymidine into DNA. Noradrenaline, adrenaline, isoproterenol and dopamine all inhibited the activation of spleen and thymus cells by concanavalin A, a T-cell specific mitogen, and the activation of spleen cells by lipopolysaccharide, a T-independent B-cell mitogen. The various catecholamines were approximately equipotent, having IC50 of approximately 10 μM. α-adrenergic agonists (phenylephrine, clonidine) did not inhibit lymphocyte activation. Noradrenaline, adrenaline and isoproterenol also inhibited DNA synthesis in S49 T lymphoma cells. The effects of adrenergic receptor antagonists on lymphocyte function were also studied. The inhibition of lymphocyte activation by catecholamines could not be reversed by antagonists to β-adrenergic receptors (propranolol), α-adrenergic receptors (phentolamine), or dopaminergic receptors (haloperidol). Experiments with human peripheral blood leucocytes revealed that, as with murine cells, the β-adrenergic antagonists propranolol and nadalol did not affect the catecholamine-mediated inhibition of lymphocyte activation. Although lymphocytes contain β-adrenergic β-receptors that are coupled to adenylyl cyclase activity, catecholamines appear to inhibit murine lymphocyte activation by a mechanism that is independent of these or other classical adrenergic receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-549
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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