Immunology and immunotherapy in neurosurgical disease

Neurosurgery. 2003 Jul;53(1):144-52; discussion 152-3. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000068865.34216.3a.


Objective: For many years, the central nervous system (CNS) has been described as "immunologically privileged" and devoid of conventional immune reactivity. However, our more current understanding of neuroimmunology supports a different view. Although immune mechanisms within the CNS may behave differently from those located at peripheral anatomic sites, it is now widely accepted that biologically relevant immune responses can and do occur within the brain and that these responses can play important roles in CNS disease. The objective of this present review is to explore key aspects of recent insights into the cellular interactions involved in neuroimmunology, which may suggest more rational approaches to the immunotherapy of neurosurgical disorders.

Conclusion: Modern advances in molecular medicine and basic immunology have yielded a plethora of new data about CNS immunobiology. The design of effective immunotherapeutic strategies for CNS diseases requires a contemporary understanding of the basic tenets of how the immune system works. The current renaissance in this field may give neurosurgeons hope that, in the future, immunotherapy-based paradigms may be able to successfully treat neurosurgical diseases that are currently refractory to traditional therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / surgery
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Immunotherapy / instrumentation*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*