Male rats were grafted an anterior pituitary within breast muscles or received a sham operation on day 5 of life. At the 60th day of life, the sympathetic denervation of rat submaxillary lymph nodes was achieved by a bilateral sympathetic superior cervical ganglionectomy (SCGx; at 15.00 h). Rats were killed either 18 h later (acute SCGx) or after 12 days (chronic SCGx) to measure lipopolysaccharide (LPS)- and concanavalin A (ConA)-induced cell proliferation in submaxillary lymph nodes, submaxillary lymph node cellularity and serum prolactin levels. In control rats, acute SCGx significantly augmented LPS or ConA activity on lymph cells while chronic SCGx had no effect. In pituitary-grafted rats, acute SCGx depressed the mitogenic effect of LPS or ConA whereas chronic SCGx augmented it. A global inhibitory effect of surgical stress on submaxillary lymph node cellularity was found in rats subjected to SCGx or its sham operation 18 h earlier. Serum prolactin levels increased significantly in pituitary-grafted rats, particularly in those subjected to chronic SCGx. In pituitary-grafted rats, a significant effect of acute SCGx was apparent, with serum prolactin levels augmenting about twice in sham-SCGx rats, and to a significantly less extent in acute SCGx rats. The results provide further evidence of the immunomodulatory role of local sympathetic nerves in submaxillary lymph nodes.

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