Immunoregulatory role of endogenous catecholamines synthesized by immune cells

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JIANG Jian-Lan()
QIU Yi-Hua()
PENG Yu-Ping()
WANG Jian-Jun()
Journal Title:
Volume 58, Issue 04, 2006
Key Word:
catecholamines;lymphocytes;tyrosine hydroxylase;adrenergic receptor;cyclic AMP

Abstract: It has been well known that catecholamines (CAs) in the body, including norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E) and dopamine (DA), are synthesized and secreted by neurons and endocrine cells and mainly modulate visceral activities such as cardiovascular,respiratory and digestive functions. The studies over the past nearly 30 years have shown that CAs can also regulate immune function.The immunomodulation of CAs is generally considered as a role mediating the regulation of nervous and endocrine systems. However,recent studies reveal that immune cells can also synthesize CAs, which is an update of traditional concept. A classical metabolic pathway of CAs shared by the nervous and endocrine systems is present in the immune cells, i.e., the immunocytes have the enzymes for synthesis of CAs [e.g. tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)] and the enzymes for degradation of CAs [e.g. monoamine oxidase (MAO) and catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT)]. The endogenous CAs synthesized by immune cells can regulate many immune functions,including cellular proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and cytokine production. These roles of the endogenous CAs may be mediated by an autocrine/paracrine pathway via relevant receptors on the immunocytes and intracellular cAMP. Intracellular oxidative mechanism may also be involved in immunoregulation of endogenous CAs in immune cells. In addition, some metabolic abnormalities of CAs in the immune cells probably induce some autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis.These findings not only provide evidence for the new concept that the immune system is possible to become the third CA system other than the nervous and endocrine systems, but also extend our comprehension on functional significance of the endogenous CAs synthesized by immune cells.

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