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Annu Rev Immunol. 2002;20:125-63. Epub 2001 Oct 4.

Neuroendocrine regulation of immunity.

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Section on Neuroimmune Immunology and Behavior, National Institute of Mental Health, Bldg 36, Room 1A 23 (MSC 4020), 36 Convent Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4020, USA.


A reciprocal regulation exists between the central nervous and immune systems through which the CNS signals the immune system via hormonal and neuronal pathways and the immune system signals the CNS through cytokines. The primary hormonal pathway by which the CNS regulates the immune system is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, through the hormones of the neuroendocrine stress response. The sympathetic nervous system regulates the function of the immune system primarily via adrenergic neurotransmitters released through neuronal routes. Neuroendocrine regulation of immune function is essential for survival during stress or infection and to modulate immune responses in inflammatory disease. Glucocorticoids are the main effector end point of this neuroendocrine system and, through the glucocorticoid receptor, have multiple effects on immune cells and molecules. This review focuses on the regulation of the immune response via the neuroendocrine system. Particular details are presented on the effects of interruptions of this regulatory loop at multiple levels in predisposition and expression of immune diseases and on mechanisms of glucocorticoid effects on immune cells and molecules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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