Conditioned augmentation of natural killer cell activity. Independence from nociceptive effects and dependence on interferon-β

Academic Article


  • Injection of mice with 20 μg polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (Poly I:C) after exposure to camphor odor results in a conditioned augmentation of natural killer cell (NK) activity. In this study, we show that the conditioned response is not the result of nociceptive stimulation and that interferon-β (IFN), but not IFN-α can replace Poly I:C as the unconditioned stimulus (US). Two conditioned stimuli (CS) were used with equivalent results. A combination CS consisting of a novel taste (saccharin) and a 125 mg/kg injection of LiCl that induces gastric upset was paired with a Poly I:C or IFN-β (1 x 104 IU) injection. This resulted in an augmentation of NK activity when the conditioned animals were reexposed to the saccharin-LiCl CS. In addition, an identical conditioned response was elicited when a camphor odor CS was paired with either of these US. To test whether the conditioned response might be an artifact not detected by our controls, a mock conditioning experiment was performed, which assessed the differential effect of multiple exposures to the saccharin-LiCl CS without a CS/US pairing. The mock conditioned group was significantly suppressed relative to saline treated controls, whereas the mock nonconditioned group and the mock conditioned group that was not reexposed to the CS after conditioning did not show significant suppression. This indicates that the augmentation observed in the conditioned group after CS/US pairing was not the result of exposure to the CS itself. Small doses of Poly I:C (5 μg or 2.5 μg) given on days 3 and 5 (or on day 5 only) to boost NK activity had the effect of increasing the magnitude of the conditioned response measured on day 6. In addition, an identical conditioned response was observed when the interval between the CS/US pairing and the later CS exposures was changed, which places the test for the conditioned response either on day 6 (CS given on days 3 and 5) or day 10 (CS given on days 7 and 9). These results show that the observed conditioned enhancement of NK activity in conditioned animals is not caused by any nociceptive properties of the CS itself and is dependent on the IFN-β produced after Poly I:C injection in the conditioned paradigm.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Solvason HB; Ghanta VK; Hiramoto RN
  • Start Page

  • 661
  • End Page

  • 665
  • Volume

  • 140
  • Issue

  • 2