Characterization of Lithium Effects on Two Aspects of T-Cell Function
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Cell surface receptors receive, transduce and relay a variety of environmental signals. These phenomena, which have been extensively characterized in non-lymphoid cells, also appear to play a crucial role in dictating the degree of lymphocyte responsiveness. The nature of these regulatory events is only beginning to be unraveled but the adenylate cyclase-cyclic AMP axis appears to be one of the important controlling systems. Lithium appears to be as important a modulator of lymphocyte responsiveness as previously shown for a variety of other cells and the mechanism of action, in general, is consistent with its role as a putative blocker of adenylate cyclase activation. Indeed, lithium may exert its role as a regulator of lymphocyte responsiveness by acting on specific lymphocyte subpopulations. Direct proof for this is still wanting and consideration of its capacity for action as an imperfect substitute for normal extra- or intracellular cations or on the physiochemical state of the plasma membrane is necessary. Nevertheless, these studies indicate the validity of using lithium for assessing the role of the lymphocyte adenylate cyclase-cyclic AMP system in the generation and expression of regulatory signals leading to modulation of the immune system.
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