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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;8(1):163-79. doi: 10.1007/s11481-012-9410-z. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Adrenergic and dopaminergic modulation of immunity in multiple sclerosis: teaching old drugs new tricks?

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Center for Research in Medical Pharmacology, University of Insubria, Via Ottorino Rossi n. 9, 21100 Varese, VA, Italy.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder of the CNS characterized by inflammation, demyelination and axonal loss. Classical evidence in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, the animal model of MS, support the relevance of sympatoadrenergic as well as of dopaminergic mechanisms. In MS patients, dysregulation of adrenergic and dopaminergic pathways contribute to the disease in immune system cells as well as in glial cells. Available evidence is summarized and discussed also in the light of the novel role of dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline as transmitters in immune cells, providing a conceptual frame to exploit the potential of several dopaminergic and adrenergic agents, already in clinical use for non-immune indications and with a usually favourable risk-benefit profile, as add-on drugs to conventional immunomodulating therapies in MS.

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