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Neural stimulations regulate the infiltration of immune cells into the CNS

Daisuke Kamimura, Masaaki Murakami
Journal of Internal Medicine 2019 April 7
The systemic regulation of immune reactions by the nervous system is well studied and depends on the release of hormones. Some regional regulations of immune reactions, on the other hand, depend on specific neural pathways. Better understanding of these regulations will expand therapeutic applications for neuroimmune and organ-to-organ functional interactions. Here we discuss one regional neuroimmune interaction, the gateway reflex, which converts specific neural inputs into local inflammatory outputs in the CNS. Neurotransmitters released by the inputs stimulate specific blood vessels to express chemokines, which serve as a gateway for immune cells to extravasate into the target organ such as the brain or spinal cord. Several types of gateway reflexes have been reported, and each controls distinct CNS blood vessels to form gateways that elicit local inflammation, particularly in the presence of autoreactive immune cells. For example, neural stimulation by gravity creates the initial entry point to the CNS by CNS-reactive pathogenic CD4+ T cells at the dorsal vessels of fifth lumbar spinal cord, while pain opens the gateway at the ventral side of blood vessels in the spinal cord. In addition, it was recently found that local inflammation by the gateway reflex in the brain triggers the activation of otherwise resting neural circuits to dysregulate organ functions in the periphery including the upper gastrointestinal tract and heart. Therefore, the gateway reflex represents a novel bidirectional neuroimmune interaction that regulates organ functions and could be a promising target for bioelectric medicine. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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