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Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Nov;34:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.03.006. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

Nerve-derived transmitters including peptides influence cutaneous immunology.

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Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.


Clinical observations suggest that the nervous and immune systems are closely related. For example, inflammatory skin disorders; such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, rosacea and acne; are widely believed to be exacerbated by stress. A growing body of research now suggests that neuropeptides and neurotransmitters serve as a link between these two systems. Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters are released by nerves innervating the skin to influence important actors of the immune system, such as Langerhans cells and mast cells, which are located within close anatomic proximity. Catecholamines and other sympathetic transmitters that are released in response to activation of the sympathetic nervous system are also able to reach the skin and affect immune cells. Neuropeptides appear to direct the outcome of Langerhans cell antigen presentation with regard to the subtypes of Th cells generated and neuropeptides induce the degranulation of mast cells, among other effects. Additionally, endothelial cells, which release many inflammatory mediators and express cell surface molecules that allow leukocytes to exit the bloodstream, appear to be regulated by certain neuropeptides and transmitters. This review focuses on the evidence that products of nerves have important regulatory activities on antigen presentation, mast cell function and endothelial cell biology. These activities are highly likely to have clinical and therapeutic relevance.


Immunity; Neuropeptides; Neurotransmitters; Skin

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