Immune and stress responses in C57BL/6 and C3H/HeN mouse strains following photoperiod manipulation.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine whether two different strains of mice, that are reproductively unresponsive to photoperiod, adjust immune function in response to photoperiod.

SETTING AND DESIGN: Adult male C3H/HeN (C3H) and C57BL/6 (C57) mice were each placed into either a long (LD 16:8) or short (LD 8:16) photoperiod for 10 weeks (n = 15/ group).

METHODS: Blood was collected for flow cytometry and radioimmunoassay analysis of leukocyte numbers and corticosterone concentrations, respectively. In addition, all mice were sensitized to, and challenged with the antigen, 2,4-dinitro-1-fluorobenzene. Pinnae measurements were obtained for 7 days following challenge to determine the magnitude of the inflammatory response.

RESULTS: Photoperiod did not affect leukocyte cell numbers in either C3H or C57 mice. C3H mice displayed higher neutrophil numbers than C57 mice (p< 0.0001), whereas C57 mice displayed higher lymphocyte numbers than C3H mice (p< 0.01). C3H mice housed in LD 16:8 had higher corticosterone concentrations than those housed in LD 8:16 (p< 0.005) and C57 mice housed in either photoperiod (p< 0.05). Photoperiod did not affect the inflammatory response, though C57 mice displayed an overall higher magnitude of response than C3H mice (p<0.05).

MAIN FINDINGS: Our results suggest that photoperiod does not alter immune function in C3H and C57 mice. Strain differences in immune function, however, were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Immune function is unresponsive to photoperiod in these laboratory mice, possibly indicating; a link between immune and reproductive responsiveness to photoperiod, the decreased predictive value of this annual cue to domesticated animals, or both.

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