Differential effects of corticosteroids on rat peripheral blood T-lymphocyte mitogenesis in vivo and in vitro

G J Wiegers, G Croiset, J M Reul, F Holsboer, E R de Kloet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of corticosteroids were studied on the concanavalin A (Con A)-induced mitogenesis of peripheral blood T-lymphocytes obtained from intact and adrenalectomized (ADX) Wistar rats. One week of adrenalectomy reduced the proliferative response of T-cells by 65% compared with sham-operated controls. Substitution of ADX rats with subcutaneously implanted 12.5-mg corticosterone (Cort) pellets, which resulted in low circulating Cort levels (17 +/- 3 nM), restored the reduced proliferative capacity to that of sham-ADX animals. In contrast, T-lymphocyte proliferation was nearly absent in ADX rats substituted with high circulating Cort levels (173 +/- 15 nM; 100-mg Cort pellet). In vitro, Cort suppressed the mitogenic response of T-lymphocytes from ADX and sham-ADX animals. The glucocorticoid antagonist RU-486 (500 nM) completely blocked this suppressive effect. However, a 10 times lower concentration of RU-486 reversed the effects of a low (10 nM) Cort concentration from suppression to stimulation. It is concluded that high Cort concentrations in vivo and in vitro suppressed T-lymphocyte mitogenesis but that low concentrations in vivo were stimulatory, whereas this stimulation in vitro occurred only in the presence of antiglucocorticoids. These opposing effects of Cort emphasize a bimodal regulatory role of this hormone in immune regulation that may be mediated by different corticosteroid receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E825-30
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology
Issue number6 Pt 1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1993


  • Adrenalectomy
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Concanavalin A
  • Corticosterone
  • Drug Implants
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Mifepristone
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reference Values
  • T-Lymphocytes


Dive into the research topics of 'Differential effects of corticosteroids on rat peripheral blood T-lymphocyte mitogenesis in vivo and in vitro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this