Expression of the conditioned NK cell activity is beta-endorphin dependent

Brain Res. 1995 Apr 24;678(1-2):76-82. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(95)00172-m.


We are interested in identifying the pathways which are responsible for triggering the conditioned enhancement of natural killer (NK) cell activity. Earlier studies have suggested that central opioid(s) are involved in eliciting the expression of the conditioned NK cell activity. The purpose of this study was to identify the central opioid peptides that allow the central nervous system (CNS) to communicate with the immune system. Mediators that activate the efferent pathway of communication between the CNS and immune system was examined by injection of the mediator via the cisterna magna (CM). Conditioning was used as a tool to show that the bi-directional communication between the CNS and the immune system does take place. We found that beta-endorphin but not dynorphin could stimulate NK cell activity, when beta-endorphin or dynorphin was injected into the CM. In addition, when anti-beta-endorphin or anti-dynorphin antibody was injected into the conditioned animals via CM the conditioned response was blocked by anti-beta-endorphin but not by anti-dynorphin antibody. These observations suggest that beta-endorphin appears to be one of the signals that is induced in the brain at the CS recall step of the conditioned response to trigger the elevation of NK cell activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cisterna Magna
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Dynorphins / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Opioid Peptides / immunology
  • Opioid Peptides / pharmacology
  • beta-Endorphin / pharmacology*


  • Immune Sera
  • Opioid Peptides
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Dynorphins