The effect of capsaicin treatment on the immune response, assessed as antibody formation in vivo and in vitro, was studied in ovalbumin (OA)-immunized rates. Rats were treated with capsaicin at 1-2 days of life or at adult age, before or after immunization. The levels of IgA, IgE and IgG antibodies as well as immunoglobulins were measured in serum and supernatants from cultured lymph node cells, spleen cells and peripheral blood lymphocytes. Capsaicin treatment affected the antibody levels depending on the timing of capsaicin treatment in relation to immunization. Different effects of capsaicin treatment were also observed on the different immunoglobulin isotypes. One of the most striking effects by capsaicin treatment was the reduction of IgA and IgG synthesis in cultured lymphoid cells from aerosol immunized animals treated with capsaicin after immunization. In contrast, in vivo the level of total serum IgA was increased in similarly treated animals. In this study we show that capsaicin treatment, which is known to decrease the levels of neuropeptides of sensory origin, has a time-dependent effect on both antibody levels in vivo as well as the formation of immunoglobulin in vitro. Although the mechanisms responsible for this are not obvious, we conclude a link between depletion of neuropeptides in sensory nerves and the antibody synthesis.
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