Chronic morphine treatment in animal models has been shown to alter a number of immune parameters including suppression of cellular immunity. T helper cell differentiation into Th2 effector cell may be a major contributing factor to impaired cellular immunity following chronic drug abuse. We had previously shown that chronic morphine treatment in vivo and in vitro decreases IL-2 and IFNγ (Th1) protein levels and increases IL-4 and IL-5 (Th2) protein levels in a time-dependent manner. In addition in this paper, we show that chronic morphine treatment resulted in a decrease in IFNγ and IL-2 mRNA and an increase in IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA accumulation in murine splenocytes. Furthermore, chronic morphine treatment inhibited IFNγ promoter activity and increased IL-4 promoter activity in respective promoter transfected primary T cells. In addition, we also demonstrate that chronic morphine treatment resulted in an increase in GATA 3 binding to DNA consensus elements in electromobility shift assays and an increase in GATA 3 protein and mRNA levels. In contrast, chronic morphine treatment resulted in a decrease in T-bet mRNA levels. From these data, we conclude that chronic morphine treatment differentiates T helper cell to Th2 effector cells by modulating key master switches that results in committing T helper cell to a Th2 phenotype.
- Chronic morphine