The present studies were performed to determine the effects of severe protein deficiency and subsequent injection of thymosin fraction 5 (TF5) on T and B cell functions. BALB/c mice, 4 weeks old, were fed a normal protein (21%), a low protein (4%) or a protein free (0%) diet and then injected with TF5 or buffer (PBS). A significant increase was observed in the PHA (phytohemagglutinin) and LPS (lipopolysaccharide) induced mitogenesis with increasing age of the well-nourished, PBS injected animals. The severely protein malnourished mice, PBS injected and the well nourished mice, injected with TF5 had smaller increases in both B and T cell mitogenesis with increasing age. TF5 injection of the malnourished mice increased PHA and LPS mitogenesis nearly to the levels of the well-nourished mice. The protein malnourished mice consistently had higher serum corticosteroid levels than controls. No changes in serum corticosteroids were observed with TF5 injection of controls, but there was a significant decrease in the corticosteroid levels of the severely malnourished with TF5 injection. Cytoxicity assays of T cell function, antibody dependent cellular cytoxicity and cytoxicity to mouse thymona tumor cells, in mice fed moderately protein deficient diets showed suppression compared to controls fed 20% protein. TF5 injection partially and temporarily increased these functions in the malnourished mice.
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