Natural killer cell activity in vasopressin-deficient rats (brattleboro strain)

Raz Yirmiya*, Yehuda Shavit, Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, Fredricka C. Martin, Herbert Weiner, John C. Liebeskind

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Several lines of evidence suggest that the neuropeptide vasopressin is involved in the regulation of the immune system. We explored this possibility by comparing the cytotoxic activity of natural killer (NK) cells in Brattleboro (DI) rats were derived. Additionally, we compared insipidus and lack vasopressin, and Long-Evans (LE) rats, the strain from which are homozygous for diabetes the effects of swim stress, morphine administration and vasopressin replacement on NK cell activity in these two strains. In DI rats, NK cell activity, determined by a standard 4-h chromium-release assay, was significantly higher than in LE rats. Both swin stress and morphine administration suppressed NK activity in DI and LE rats. There was no difference in the level of suppression between the two strains. Vasopressin replacement normalized water intake in DI rats, but had no significant effect on NK cell activity. DI rats exhibited lower plasma corticosterone levels, which were not elevated by vasopressin replacement. The results suggest that the lack of vasopressin in DI rats elevates baseline NK cell activity, probably via mechanisms that are secondary to the vasopressin deficiency (e.g. lower corticosterone levels). Neither vasopressin nor other hormones affected by vasopressin deficiency seem to be involved in the acute modulating effects of stress and morphine on NK cells.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Feb 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Brattleboro
  • Morphine
  • Natural killer cell
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Stress
  • Vasopressin


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