Proenkephalin (PENK), a classically defined opioid gene, was originally thought to be expressed almost exclusively in the mature nervous and neuroendocrine systems. In the last few years, it was demonstrated, however, that significant levels of PENK mRNA and PENK-derived peptides are transiently expressed in cells of the immune system. Very little is known about the molecular mechanisms regulating this transient expression. In order to investigate those mechanisms, we examined the in vivo expression of PENK mRNA in mesenteric lymph nodes after exposing rats to lipopolysaccharide. In the present study we demonstrate that: (1) promoter usage and splicing of PENK mRNA function similarly in mesenteric lymph nodes as in neural cells; (2) PENK expression in mesenteric lymph nodes is modulated by adrenaline via adrenergic receptors; and (3) the adrenergic system participates in the modulation of the LPS induced PENK mRNA expression. These results provide more evidence for the involvement of opioids in neuro-immune interactions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation, by the Hilda Katz Blaustein Foundation and the Nina Silverman Fund. The technical assistance of Mrs. F. Baicer-Hochstadt is greatly appreciated.
- Adrenergic antagonists