Serotonin (5-HT) has been observed to impair the cytotoxicity of human natural killer (NK) cells. A study has now been made of the effect of 5-HT on the cytotoxic activity of chicken granulocytes. 5-HT at concentrations of 10-3 to 10-6 M inhibited the cytotoxicity of chicken granulocytes when added at the onset of the short-term cytotoxicity assay. Ketanserin, a 5-HT2 receptor antagonist, did not reverse the inhibitory effect of 5-HT on chicken granulocyte cytotoxicity. Moreover, ketanserin at concentrations of 5 × 10-4 to 5 × 10-7 M inhibited the cytotoxicity mediated by chicken granulocytes. Pretreatment of the effector cells for 2 h with chick fibroblast interferon reduced the inhibition of chicken NK cytotoxicity induced by 5-HT and by ketanserin. These data indicate that, in birds, the neurotransmitter 5-HT serves as a link between the central nervous system and the immune system, and that interferon can modulate the inhibitory effect of 5-HT on the function of cytotoxic granulocytes.
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