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Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Apr;6(4):318-28.

Neural regulation of innate immunity: a coordinated nonspecific host response to pathogens.

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Section on Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behaviour, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, 5625 Fishers Lane, Room 4N-13, MSC-9401, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.


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.

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