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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2005 Nov;6(11):1116-23.

Role of vasoactive intestinal peptide in inflammation and autoimmunity.

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  • 1Instituto de Parasitologia y Biomedicina Lopez-Neyra, CSIC, PT Ciencias de la Salud, Granada 18100, Spain.


Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a peptide produced by immune cells, exerts a wide spectrum of immunological functions that control the homeostasis of the immune system. In the last decade, VIP has been clearly identified as a potent anti-inflammatory factor, both in innate and adaptive immunity. In innate immunity, this peptide inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines from macrophages, microglia and dendritic cells. In addition, VIP reduces the expression of co-stimulatory molecules on antigen-presenting cells, and therefore reduces stimulation of antigen-specific CD4 T-cells. In terms of adaptive immunity, VIP promotes T-helper (Th)2-type responses, and reduces inflammatory Th1-type responses. Several of the molecular mechanisms involved in the inhibition of cytokine and chemokine expression, and in the preferential development and/or survival of Th2 effectors are known. Therefore, VIP and its analogs have been proposed as promising alternative candidates to existing therapies for the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The aim of this review is to update knowledge of the cellular and molecular events that are relevant to VIP function in the immune system. The central functions that VIP plays in cellular processes is being recognized and attention is being focused on this important peptide with regard to exciting new candidates for therapeutic intervention and drug development.

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