Norepinephrine, the beta-adrenergic receptor, and immunity

Brain Behav Immun. 2002 Aug;16(4):290-332. doi: 10.1006/brbi.2001.0639.


Over the past 20 years, a significant effort has been made to define a role for the neuroendocrine system in the regulation of immunity. It was expected that these experimental findings would help to establish a strategy for the development of clinical interventions to either suppress or augment immunological function for disease prevention. However, the translation of these basic experimental findings into clinical interventions has been difficult. Possible explanations for this difficulty are that the findings from human and animal studies do not agree and/or that the results obtained within one species are rarely verified in the other. Our goal in writing this review is to address this issue by summarizing the published findings from human studies and comparing them to published findings from animal studies. Although far from being exhaustive, this review summarizes and discusses at least the past 10 years of findings in which a change in immunity and a change in catecholamine levels and/or stimulation of the beta(2)-adrenergic receptor has been documented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Norepinephrine / immunology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / immunology*


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Norepinephrine