Targeting ß2 adrenergic receptors regulate human T cell function directly and indirectly

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Colleges, School and Institutes


It is well-established that central nervous system activation affects peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMCs) function through the release of the catecholamines (Epi) and norepinephrine (NE), which act on ß2-adrenergic receptors (ß2AR). However, most studies have used non-specific stimulation of cells rather than antigen-specific responses. Likewise, few studies have parsed out the direct effects of ß2AR stimulation on T cells versus indirect effects via adrenergic stimulation of antigen presenting cells (APC). Here we report the effect of salmeterol (Sal), a selective ß2AR agonist, on IFN-γ(+) CD4 and IFN-γ(+) CD8 T cells following stimulation with Cytomegalovirus lysate (CMVL-strain AD169) or individual peptides spanning the entire region of the HCMV pp65 protein (pp65). Cells were also stimulated with Staphylococcal enterotoxin B. Additionally, we investigated the effect of Epi and Sal on cytotoxic cell killing of transfected target cells at the single cell level using the CD107a assay. The results show that Sal reduced the percentage of IFN-γ(+) CD4 and IFN-γ(+) CD8 T cells both when applied directly to isolated T cells, and indirectly via treatment of APC. These inhibitory effects were mediated via a ß2 adrenergic-dependent pathway and were stronger for CD8 as compared to CD4 T cells. Similarly, the results show that Sal suppressed cytotoxicity of both CD8 T and NK cells in vitro following stimulation with Chinese hamster ovary cell line transfected with MICA(*009) (T-CHO) and the human erythromyeloblastoid leukemic (K562) cell line. The inhibitory effect on cytotoxicity following stimulation with T-CHO was stronger in NK cells compared with CD8 T cells. Thus, targeting the ß2AR on lymphocytes and on APC leads to inhibition of inflammatory cytokine production and target cell killing. Moreover, there is a hierarchy of responses, with CD8 T cells and NK cells inhibited more effectively than CD4 T cells.

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Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behaviour, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014


  • Catecholamines, Sympathetic nervous system, Lymphocytosis, Immune function, Adrenergic agonists