JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Acute inhibition of inflammation mediated by sympathetic nerves: the inflammatory reflex.

In this review we will try to convince the readers that the immune system is controlled by an endogenous neural reflex, termed inflammatory reflex, that inhibits the acute immune response during the course of a systemic immune challenge. We will analyse here the contribution of different sympathetic nerves as possible efferent arms of the inflammatory reflex. We will discuss the evidence that demonstrates that neither the splenic sympathetic nerves nor the hepatic sympathetic nerves are necessary for the endogenous neural reflex inhibition of inflammation. We will discuss the contribution of the adrenal glands to the reflex control of inflammation, noting that the neurally mediated release of catecholamines in the systemic circulation is responsible for the enhancement of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 10 (IL10) but not of the inhibition of the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor α (TNF). We will conclude by reviewing the evidence that demonstrates that the splanchnic anti-inflammatory pathway, composed by preganglionic and postganglionic sympathetic splanchnic fibres with different target organs, including the spleen and the adrenal glands, is the efferent arm of the inflammatory reflex. During the course of a systemic immune challenge, the splanchnic anti-inflammatory pathway is endogenously activated to inhibit the TNF and enhance the IL10 response, independently, presumably acting on separate populations of leukocytes.

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