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Methods Mol Biol. 2012;829:433-43. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-458-2_27.

Interleukin-2 and the septohippocampal system: intrinsic actions and autoimmune processes relevant to neuropsychiatric disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.


The effects of IL-2 on brain development, function, and disease are the result of IL-2's actions in the peripheral immune system and its intrinsic actions in the central nervous system (CNS). Determining whether, and under what circumstances (e.g., development, acute injury), these different actions of IL-2 are operative in the brain is essential to make significant advances in understanding the multifaceted affects of IL-2 on CNS function and disease, including psychiatric disorders. For several decades, there has been a great deal of speculation about the role of autoimmunity in brain disease. More recently, we have learned a great deal about the role of cytokines on neurobiological processes, and there have been many studies that have found peripheral immune alterations in patients with neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. Despite a plethora of published literature, almost all of this data in humans is correlative and much of the basic research has understandably relied on simpler models (e.g., in vitro models). Good animal models such as our IL-2 knockout mouse model could provide valuable new insight into understanding how the complex biology of a cytokine such as IL-2 can have simultaneous, dynamic effects on multiple systems (e.g., regulating homeostasis in the brain and immune system, autoimmunity that can affect both systems). Animal models can also provide much needed new data elucidating neuroimmunological and autoimmune processes involved in brain development and disease. Such information may ultimately provide critical new insight into the role of brain cytokines and autoimmunity in prominent neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia).

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