Lithium enhances several in vitro indices of immune function, including thymidine uptake by mitogen-stimulated human mononuclear cells. To further characterize the mechanism of action of lithium and to determine whether it acts by abrogating cell suppressor cell by enhancing helper cell function, we have compared the effects of lithium on the mitogenic response of normal, suppressor-depleted and suppressor-enriched mononuclear cell preparations. In normal cultures, lithium enhanced thymidine uptake in response to concanavalin A (Con A) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA). In the suppressor-depleted cultures, thymidine uptake after Con A stimulation was significantly higher than in normal cultures, and was further enhanced by lithium. In the suppressor-enriched system, response to PHA was significantly lower than in normal cultures, and addition of lithium reversed the observed suppression. These results indicate that lithium may be enhancing thymidine uptake in response to mitogen at least in part by abrogating suppressor cell activity. The observed increase in thymidine incorporation in the suppressor-depleted cultures suggests that lithium may also have a direct stimulatory effect on helper cell activity.
- Helper cells
- Suppressor cells