Effects of cocaine administration to influenza virus-immunized mice on cytokine profiles of individual splenic CD4+ and CD8+ T cells

P. Di Francesco, Roberto Falchetti, R. Gaziano, G. Lanzilli, I. A. Casalinuovo, G. Ravagnan, E. Garaci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have analysed the effects of cocaine, administered to mice during the in vivo differentiation of effector T cells stimulated by antigen (influenza virus) recognition, on the frequency of IL-2-, IL-4- and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ)-expressing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Each animal was injected intraperitoneally with 10 mg/kg of cocaine 6, 24, 48 and 72 h after immunization with A/PR8 influenza virus (PR8). This enabled the determination of the pharmacological effects of cocaine on T cells during the initial step of the immune response, which is characterized by the production of large amounts of immunoregulatory cytokines. The distribution of IL-2-, IL-4- and IFN-γ-producing CD4+ and CD8+ T cells was assayed on unseparated PR8- immune spleen cells, obtained from mice treated with cocaine or vehicle, and restimulated in vitro with UV-inactivated PR8 virus. The frequency of T cells singly or co-expressing the above three cytokines was determined at single- cell level by simultaneous flow cytometric analysis of intracellular cytokines and surface antigen expression. In parallel, the levels of IL-2, IL-4 and IFN-γ in the culture supernatants were quantified by ELISA. The results showed that cocaine, administered during the in vivo virus-induced differentiation of T cells, caused an increase of both the frequencies of CD8+ T cells singly and co-expressing IL-2 and IFN-γ and the levels of these cytokines in virus-restimulated spleen cell culture supernatants, compared with those of untreated controls. In contrast, no effect was found on IL-4-positive CD8+ T cells and on IL-2-, IFN-γ- and IL-4-positive CD4+ T cells. Our findings suggest that the immunomodulatory effects of cocaine may be due to the up-regulation of the production of IL-2 and IFN-γ by CD8+ T cells with a type 0 cytokine profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-434
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Cocaine
  • Cytokine
  • In vivo
  • Influenza virus
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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