Cellular immunity is not compromised by high serum corticosterone concentrations in prairie voles

Sabra L. Klein, Susan E. Taymans, A. Courtney Devries, Randy J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids compromise immune function in glucocorticoid-sensitive species (e.g., mice), but these immunosuppressive effects may be reduced in glucocorticoid-resistant species. Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) have been characterized as glucocorticoid-resistant to their high circulating levels of corticosterone. Because glucocorticoid-sensitive species display suppressed lymphocyte proliferation in response to elevated blood glucocorticoid levels, proliferative values were hypothesized to be reduced in house mice (Mus musculus) compared with prairie voles. Prairie voles exhibited significantly higher splenocyte proliferative responses to the T cell mitogen, Concanavalin A, despite having higher basal total and free serum corticosterone levels than mice. Neither total nor free serum corticosterone correlated with proliferative responses from either species. These data provide further evidence for glucocorticoid resistance in prairie voles and suggest that the interactions between the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal axis and the immune system in prairie voles may differ from those in mice or other glucocorticoid-sensitive species. Therefore, prairie voles may serve as a valuable animal model for the syndrome of glucocorticoid resistance in humans and the role of glucocorticoids in conditions characterized by a hyperactive immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1608-R1613
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 40-6
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • adrenal
  • arvicoline rodent
  • house mouse
  • immunology
  • spleen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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