• chicken;
  • immunity;
  • melatonin;
  • melatonin receptors;
  • signal transduction;
  • splenocytes

Abstract:  The pineal hormone melatonin exhibits immunomodulatory activity well documented in mammals and birds. The mechanism of melatonin action within the immune system is, however, poorly understood. In mammalian immune cells in vitro, melatonin acts mainly as an antiapoptotic, oncostatic and antiproliferative agent, and these effects are exerted via specific receptors or are related to its free radical scavenging activity. In previous studies we have found that in short-term chicken splenocyte cultures in vitro melatonin stimulated basil proliferation and inhibited that stimulated with phytohemagglutinin, a T-cell mitogen. This paper is devoted to the involvement of membrane receptors, previously characterised by us as MT2 (Mel1b) and Mel1c subtypes, in the above mentioned melatonin effects in chicken splenocyte cultures. For this purpose, in present study a nonselective melatonin receptor antagonist, luzindole, and the selective MT2 blocker, 4P-PDOT, were used. The effect of melatonin on second messengers, cyclic adenosine-3′,5′-monophosphate (cAMP) and inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3), involved in the regulation of proliferation, was examined. We have found that the stimulation of proliferation occurs via Mel1c receptor and is associated with the changes in intracellular second messengers concentration: a decrease in cAMP and an increase in IP3. In contrast, in mitogen-activated splenocytes, melatonin-induced inhibition of proliferation is mediated by MT2 receptors and is related to cAMP accumulation, as well as a decrease in IP3. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that the stimulatory and inhibitory effect of melatonin on chicken splenocytes in vitro, dependent on the magnitude of cell stimulation, resulted from two different subtypes of membrane receptors.