Neural regulation

The central nervous system (CNS) regulates innate immune responses through hormonal and neuronal routes. The neuroendocrine stress response and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems generally inhibit innate immune responses at systemic and regional levels, whereas the peripheral nervous system tends to amplify local innate immune responses. These systems work together to first activate and amplify local inflammatory responses that contain or eliminate invading pathogens, and subsequently to terminate inflammation and restore host homeostasis. Here, I review these regulatory mechanisms and discuss the evidence indicating that the CNS can be considered as integral to acute-phase inflammatory responses to pathogens as the innate immune system.

The innate immune response to infectious and sterile injury is modulated by neural circuits that control cytokine production period. The Inflammatory Reflex is a prototypical neural circuit that controls cytokine production in spleen.  Action potentials transmitted via the vagus nerve to spleen mediate the release of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that inhibits cytokine release by interacting with alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (CHRNA7) expressed on cytokine-producing cells. The motor arc of the inflammatory reflex is termed the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.

  • cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.
  • Immune cell trafficking

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