Author(s): Roberts JE
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Abstract The immune system is susceptible to a variety of stresses. Recent work in neuroimmunology has begun to define how mood alteration, stress, the seasons, and daily rhythms can have a profound effect on immune response through hormonal modifications. Central to these factors may be light through an eye-brain hormonal modulation. In adult primates, only visible light (400-700 nm) is received by the retina. This photic energy is then transduced and delivered to the visual cortex and by an alternative pathway to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is a part of the hypothalamic region in the brain believed to direct circadian rhythm. Visible light exposure also modulates the pituitary and pineal gland which leads to neuroendocrine changes. Melatonin, norepinephrine and acetylcholine decrease with light activation, while cortisol, serotonin, gaba and dopamine levels increase. The synthesis of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) in rat SCN has been shown to be modified by light. These induced neuroendocrine changes can lead to alterations in mood and circadian rhythm. All of these neuroendocrine changes can lead to immune modulation. An alternative pathway for immune modulation by light is through the skin. Visible light (400-700 nm) can penetrate epidermal and dermal layers of the skin and may directly interact with circulating lymphocytes to modulate immune function. However, even in the presence of phototoxic agents such as eosin and rose bengal, visible light did not produce suppression of contact hypersensitivity with suppresser cells. In contrast to visible light, in vivo exposure to UV-B (280-320 nm) and UV-A (320-400 nm) radiation can only alter normal human immune function by a skin mediated response. Each UV subgroup (B, A) induces an immunosuppressive response but by differing mechanisms involving the regulation of differing interleukins and growth factors. Some effects observed in humans are: inhibition of allergic contact dermatitis; inhibition of delayed hypersensitivity to an injected antigen; prolongation of skin-graft survival and induction of a tumor-susceptible state. The following article will review much of the progress in this field and explore possible areas of future research.
This article was published in J Photochem Photobiol B
and referenced in Journal of Computer Science & Systems Biology