Chronobiology international

Constant light suppresses production of Met-enkephalin-containing peptides in cultured splenic macrophages and impairs primary immune response in rats.

PMID 25245012


The light-dark cycle is an environmental factor that influences immune physiology, and so, variations of the photoperiod length result in altered immune responsivity. Macrophage physiology comprises a spectrum of functions that goes from host defense to immune down-regulation, in addition to their homeostatic activities. Macrophages also play a key role in the transition from innate to adaptive immune responses. Met-enkephalin (MEnk) has been recognized as a modulator of macrophage physiology acting in an autocrine or paracrine fashion to influence macrophage activation, phenotype polarization and production of cytokines that would enhance lymphocyte activation at early stages of an immune response. Previously it was shown that splenic MEnk tissue content is reduced in rats exposed to constant light. In this work, we explored whether production of Met-enkephalin-containing peptides (MECPs) in cultured splenic macrophages is affected by exposure of rats to a constant light regime. In addition, we explored whether primary immune response was impaired under this condition. We found that in rats, 15 days in constant light was sufficient to disrupt their general activity rhythm. Splenic MEnk content oscillations and levels were also blunted throughout a 24-h period in animals subjected to constant light. In agreement, de novo synthesis of MECPs evaluated through incorporation of (35)S-methionine was reduced in splenic macrophages from rats exposed to constant light. Moreover, MECPs immunocytochemistry showed a decrease in the intracellular content and lack of granule-like deposits in this condition. Furthermore, we found that primary T-dependent antibody response was compromised in rats exposed to constant light. In those animals, pharmacologic treatment with MEnk increased IFN-γ-secreting cells. Also, IL-2 secretion from antigen-stimulated splenocytes was reduced after incubation with naloxone, suggesting that immune-derived opioid peptides and stimulation of opioid receptors are involved in this process. Thus, the immune impairment observed from early stages of the response in constant light-subjected rats, could be associated with reduced production of macrophage-derived enkephalins, leading to a sub-optimal interaction between macrophages and lymphocytes in the spleen and the subsequent deficiency in antibody production.