Activity of T-Helper Lymphocytes in Opium Dependent and Non-dependent Individuals

Document Type: Original Article


1 Faculty Member, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

2 Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry, Kerman University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Kerman, Iran


Opium derivatives affect the function and differentiation of peripheral leucocytes, directly or indirectly. Previous researches have shown that these cells respond to the endorphins through their opioid receptors (σ, µ and κ). There are many reports about the effect of morphine and heroin on immune system of dependent people, but there is no report on the functions of T-helper lymphocytes in opium dependent individuals. For this reason, this study was designed to survey (in-vivo and ex-vivo) the effect of opium smoking on immune system of dependent male individuals. To carry out the investigation, 5 ml of heparinized peripheral blood was collected from each of the 23 opium dependant males (28.44±4.05 years old) and 12 males (26.50±4.30 years old) who served as control group. Individuals in both groups were smoking cigarettes (15-25 cigarettes per day). Part of the collected blood was used for blood cell count (CBC) and preparation of 0.5 ml plasma for evaluation of IL-2, IL-10 and TGFβ1 and the rest was used for stimulation of the whole blood with a mixture of LPS (10 µg/ml) and PHA (10µg/ml) for 4, 24, 48 and 72 hours. According to the results, in the dependent group plasma concentration of IL-10 and TGF-β1 were higher (P<0.05), while IL-2 concentration was lower (P<0.05) comparing to the control group. Evaluation of TGF-β1 in the supernatant of stimulated whole blood of both groups showed similar pattern for TGF-β1 (non- significant), while synthesis and release of IL-10 were less and concentration of IL-2 was higher (P<0.001) in the opium dependent group. In conclusion opium dependent cigarette smokers have higher numbers of circulating TH2 and TH3 lymphocytes and lower number of TH1 than non-dependent cigarette smokers. However, due to lower activity of TH2 and higher activity of TH1 lymphocytes, dependent individuals may be at higher risk during infections.