Experiments reported here were performed to understand the mechanism by which THF increases the immunocompetence of spleen cells from NTx mice.
Dibutyryl cAMP or substances which increase intracellular levels of cAMP in lymphocytes such as Poly(A:U), theophylline, or PGE2 were shown to mimic the effect of THF and confer reactivity in an in vitro GvH response to spleen cells from NTx mice. Flufenamic acid, an antagonist to PGE2, was shown to inhibit the induction of competence by this substance. It was found that THF induces competence by activating membranal adenyl cyclase which leads to a rise in intracellular cAMP in thymus-derived cells only. These biochemical changes occur before antigenic stimulation and are unrelated to antigenic challenge.
These findings indicate that THF exerts its effect via cAMP and are in agreement with the concepts which permit to classify THF as a thymus hormone.