Feinstein Institute for Medical Research researchers Valentin A. Pavlov, PhD, Sangeeta S. Chavan, PhD, and Kevin J. Tracey, MD, reviewed the link between the nervous system and the immune system in an analysis published in the Annual Review of Immunology. A detailed account of how the central and peripheral nervous systems signal the immune system could lead to new therapies — including those in the new field of bioelectronic medicine. For more information see the IDTechEx report on digital health.
"The medical and scientific communities increasingly recognize that it's not just the immune system - it's also the nervous system - that contributes to protecting the body against injury and infection," said Dr. Pavlov, lead author of the paper. "Expanded knowledge about how the nervous and immune systems interact and send signals throughout the body brings us closer to developing new therapies that harness the nervous system to treat disease."
The newly-published analysis stems from Drs. Pavlov, Chavan and Tracey's years of research into how the nervous system communicates and regulates the immune system. "There is widespread interest in the molecular mechanisms described here," noted Dr. Tracey. The analysis outlines how the brain and immune system communicate, and how specific brain areas may control specific functions of the immune system. This research builds on the Feinstein Institute discovery that neural signals transmitted in the body in an "inflammatory reflex" regulate inflammation in diseases like sepsis, lupus, hypertension, Crohn's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Further mapping these neural circuits in the brain and in the body will help to develop novel bioelectronic medicine technologies.
"It is an exciting time in our research careers," said Dr. Chavan. "We believe that over the next several years, bioelectronic medicine will see major progress based on the discoveries we are making today."
Source and top image: Feinstein Institute for Medical Research