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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2015 Feb;201(2):185-94. doi: 10.1007/s00359-014-0961-8. Epub 2014 Nov 15.

The nervous and the immune systems: conspicuous physiological analogies.

Author information

1
Neuroimmunology Unit, National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery of Mexico, Insurgentes Sur 3877, 14269, Mexico, Mexico, jsotelo@unam.mx.

Abstract

From all biological constituents of complex organisms, two are highly sophisticated: the nervous and the immune systems. Interestingly, their goals and processes appear to be distant from each other; however, their physiological mechanisms keep notorious similarities. Both construct intelligence, learn from experience, and keep memory. Their precise responses to innumerable stimuli are delicately modulated, and the exposure of the individual to thousands of potential challenges integrates their functionality; they use a large part of their constituents not in excitatory activities but in the maintenance of inhibitory mechanisms to keep silent vast intrinsic potentialities. The nervous and immune systems are integrated by a basic cell lineage (neurons and lymphocytes, respectively) but each embodies countless cell subgroups with different and specialized deeds which, in contrast with cells from other organs, labyrinthine molecular arrangements conduct to "one cell, one function". Also, nervous and immune actions confer identity that differentiates every individual from countless others in the same species. Both systems regulate and potentiate their responses aided by countless biological resources of variable intensity: hormones, peptides, cytokines, pro-inflammatory molecules, etc. How the immune and the nervous systems buildup memory, learning capability, and exquisite control of excitatory/inhibitory mechanisms constitute major intellectual challenges for contemporary research.

PMID:
25398574
DOI:
10.1007/s00359-014-0961-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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