Met-enkephalin (MENK) is an opioid peptide that is released during physiological stress and is reported to either up-regulate or down-regulate the immune response. Our previous experiments showed the ability of 10-7 M MENK to modulate the plaque-forming cell (PFC) response of Mishell-Dutton cultures treated with low, optimal, and large concentrations of sheep erythrocyte (SE) antigen. In the present series of experiments the PFC response was measured in splenocyte cultures challenged with incremental concentrations of SE in the presence of 10-7 M MENK. These experiments illustrate what we consider to be true modulation, i.e., the ability of MENK to modulate immune function only during the presence of a strong immune signal. When the immune signal was strong, as represented by a strong PFC response, MENK suppressed the PFC response. Conversely, when the strongest immune signal was high-antigen suppression of the PFC response, MENK overcame the suppression and frequently returned the PFC response to a greater than optimal levle. In a true modulatory fashion MENK had no effect in those regions of the dose-response curve where there was insufficient antigen to induce a strong immune signal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience