Natural and Cellular Immune Responses in Flinders Sensitive and Resistant Line Rats

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Major depression is associated with impairments in natural and cellular immune responses. This study characterized baseline natural and cellular immune function in the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) genetic animal model of depression and in Flinders Resistant Line (FRL) controls. Splenic natural cytotoxicity per natural killer (NK) cell was significantly lower in the FSL rats, suggesting that NK cells are less activated at rest in the FSL rats than in the FRL controls. Neither lymphocyte proliferative responses nor interleukin-2 production differed between the two strains. Resting baseline concentrations of plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosterone were similar between the FSL and FRL rats, indicating that hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis activation did not mediate immunological differences. FSL rats show abnormalities in natural immunity similar to those found in clinically depressed human beings, indicating that this animal model may be useful in understanding the neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms associated with immune alterations in depression.

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Correspondence to Elliot M Friedman Ph.D.

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Friedman, E., Irwin, M. & Overstreet, D. Natural and Cellular Immune Responses in Flinders Sensitive and Resistant Line Rats. Neuropsychopharmacol 15, 314–322 (1996) doi:10.1016/0893-133X(95)00235-6

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  • Flinders Sensitive Line
  • Depression
  • Natural killer
  • Lymphocyte proliferation
  • Interleukin-2

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