Effects of subchronic d-fenfluramine on splenic immune functions in young and old male and female fischer 344 rats

J. Clancy, L. M. Petrovic, B. H. Gordon, R. J. Handa, D. B. Campbell, S. A. Lorens

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17 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to demonstrate age- and sex-related differences in immune functions, and to determine whether subchronic elevations in serotonin (5-HT) availability in vivo would alter immune functions assessed subsequently in vitro. Male and female F344 rats (5 and 21 months of age) were administered the 5-HT releaser and reuptake inhibitor, d-fenfluramine (d-Fen), in their drinking water for 30-38 days then killed. The young animals received a higher dose (1.8 mg/kg/day) of d-Fen than the old rats (0.6 mg/kg/day) in order to compensate for age-related decreases in drug biotransformation and clearance. Brain and spleen d-Fen and metabolite concentrations, however, were considerably higher in the young than in the old rats. d-Fen treatment did not affect body weight or fluid intake. Although substantial sex differences in immune function were not discerned, age-related decreases were observed in absolute splenic cellularity, recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2) stimulated natural killer (NK) cytotoxicity, LPS stimulated B-cell mitogenesis, and in the level of Ox19 (CD5) positive cells. d-Fen caused an increase in absolute spleen weight and a decrease in absolute splenic cellularity only in the old rats of both sexes. Spleen cells from young male and old female rats receiving d-Fen had relatively more large granular lymphocytes and enhanced baseline and rIL-2 activated killing of YAC-1 cells than their vehicle matched or opposite sex counterparts. The drug also increased Con A-induced T-cell proliferation in young males and LPS induced B-cell proliferation in old females. d-Fen decreased Ox39 (CD25) levels by 19%, but did not affect any of the other phenotypes examined. The results suggest that 5-HT has a selective stimulatory effect on young male and old female NK activity, and that old female rats are more sensitive to the immunological effects of d-Fen than old male rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1203-1212
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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