Selective inhibition by alcohol and cortisol of natural killer cell activity of lymphocytes from cord blood

Madhavan P.N. Nair, Zaid A. Kronfol, John F. Greden, Kailash C. Chadha, Umakant J. Dumaswala, Ann M. Sweet, Stanley A. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


1. 1. The immunosuppressive effects of drugs such as alcohol or hormones such as cortisol may be age-related. To test this hypothesis, the authors investigated the in vitro effects of ethanol (EtOH) and cortisol on Natural Killer (NK) cell activity of lymphocytes from normal cord blood in comparison with that of lymphocytes from normal adult peripheral blood. 2. 2. K562, an erythroleukemia cell line, was used as a target in a 4 hr 51Cr release assay. 3. 3. Ethanol at 0.3% (V/V) and cortisol at 0.05, 0.1 and 0.2 μg/ml concentrations, added directly to a mixture of effector and target cells significantly suppressed the NK activity of cord blood lymphocytes in a dose dependent fashion, whereas similar concentrations of either EtOH or cortisol did not manifest significant immunoregulatory effects on NK cell activity of normal adult lymphocytes. 4. 4. Pre-treatment of the target with either EtOH or cortisol for 4 hours did not affect cytotoxicity. Inhibition of cytotoxicity was also not due to direct toxicity of effector cells because lymphocytes treated with either EtOH or cortisol showed normal 51Cr release and their viability was comparable to that of untreated control cells. 5. 5. This suggests a selective inhibitory effect of EtOH and cortisol on NK activity of neonatal lymphocytes that may be of clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1305
Number of pages13
JournalProgress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1994



  • alcohol
  • cortisol
  • lymphocytes
  • natural killer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry

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