Reports

Opioid peptides mediate the suppressive effect of stress on natural killer cell cytotoxicity

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  13 Jan 1984:
Vol. 223, Issue 4632, pp. 188-190
DOI: 10.1126/science.6691146

Abstract

The cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells was investigated in rats subjected to one of two inescapable footshock stress paradigms, both of which induce analgesia, but only one via activation of opioid mechanisms. Splenic natural killer cell activity was suppressed by the opioid, but not the nonopioid, form of stress. This suppression was blocked by the opioid antagonist naltrexone. Similar suppression of natural killer activity was induced by high doses of morphine. These results suggest that endogenous opioid peptides mediate the suppressive effect of certain forms of stress on natural killer cell cytotoxicity.