Photoperiod controls the induction, retention, and retrieval of antigen-specific immunological memory.
Changes in day length affect several measures of immunity in seasonally breeding mammals. In Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus), short day lengths suppress specific secondary antibody responses to the keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) antigen and enhance cutaneous delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses to dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB). These experiments tested whether day length affects secondary antibody and DTH responses by altering immune function solely during the interval after the initial exposure to each antigen, solely during the interval after the second exposure, or during both stages of the respective immune responses. Adult male Siberian hamsters were exposed to either a long (16 h light/day; LD) or a short (8 h light/day; SD) photoperiod for 7.5 wk before receiving an initial exposure to each antigen (KLH injection, cutaneous DNFB treatment; separate groups of animals for each antigen). A subset of LD hamsters was transferred to the SD photo-period, and a subset of SD hamsters was transferred to the LD photoperiod. Other hamsters remained in LD or SD. Eight weeks later, all hamsters were challenged with a second subcutaneous injection of KLH or a second application of DNFB to the ear, and immune responses were measured. Exposure to SD during the primary antibody response did not affect secondary IgG responses, but SD exposure during the secondary response significantly suppressed IgG production independent of day length during the initial KLH treatment. In contrast, exposure to SD during the DNFB challenge enhanced the ensuing DTH response, but this enhancement depended on the photoperiod prevailing during the initial exposure. Exposure to SD during the sensitization stage did not enhance DTH in hamsters subsequently exposed to LD. The data suggest that short photoperiods have enduring effects on immune responsiveness and on the establishment and retention of immunological memory.
Prendergast, BJ; Bilbo, SD; Nelson, RJ
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