Acute stress reduces intraparenchymal lung natural killer cells via beta-adrenergic stimulation

Osamu Kanemi, X. Zhang, Y. Sakamoto, M. Ebina, R. Nagatomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


There are lines of evidence that natural killer (NK) cells are sensitive to physical and psychological stress. Alterations in the immune system including NK cells are known to differ among tissues and organs. The effect of stress on the lung immune system, however, has not been well documented in spite of the fact that the lungs always confront viral or bacterial attacks as well as tumour cell metastasis. In this study, we intended to investigate the effect of restraint stress on lung lymphocytes including NK cells. C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 2 h restraint stress. The concentration of plasma epinephrine significantly rose immediately after the release from restraint as compared to home-cage control mice. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that the numbers of most lymphocyte subsets including NK cells were decreased in the lungs and blood but not in the spleen, immediately after restraint stress. Immunohistochemical examination revealed that the number of NK cells was decreased in the intraparenchymal region of the lungs, while the number of alveolar macrophages did not change. The decrease in the number of NK cells in the lungs and blood was reversed by the administration of propranolol, a nonselective beta adrenergic antagonist. Taken together, our findings suggest that acute stress reduces the number of intraparenchymal lung NK cells via activation of beta adrenergic receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jan


  • Beta-adrenergic receptors
  • Catecholamines
  • Lung parenchyma
  • Natural killer cells
  • Restraint stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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