Central interferon-α inhibits natural killer cytotoxicity through sympathetic innervation

S. Take, T. Mori, T. Katafuchi, T. Hori

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60 Citations (Scopus)


The brain has been known to produce high levels of interferon-α (IFN-α) during viral infections. We investigated the central and peripheral mechanisms of the brain IFN-α-induced suppression of natural killer (NK) cytotoxicity in the rat. The activity of NK cells in the spleen and the peripheral blood decreased 30-120 min after intracerebroventricular (icv) injection of recombinant human IFN-α of >1,000 U but not after its intraperitoneal injection. This effect was antagonized by pretreatment with icv naltrexone (NLTX). Splenic denervation was observed to completely abolish the IFN-α-induced suppression of NK activity, whereas bilateral adrenalectomy did not. Furthermore, this immunosuppression was blocked by an icv injection of an antagonist of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), α- helical CRF-(9-41). The icv injection of CRF resulted in reduced NK activity, which was not affected by NLTX. The results suggest that brain IFN-α activates the CRF system through central opioid receptors and thereby suppresses the NK cytotoxicity predominantly through splenic sympathetic innervation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R453-R459
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2 34-2
Publication statusPublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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