The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway: a missing link in neuroimmunomodulation

Mol Med. May-Aug 2003;9(5-8):125-34.

Abstract

This review outlines the mechanisms underlying the interaction between the nervous and immune systems of the host in response to an immune challenge. The main focus is the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, which we recently described as a novel function of the efferent vagus nerve. This pathway plays a critical role in controlling the inflammatory response through interaction with peripheral a7 subunit-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors expressed on macrophages. We describe the modulation of systemic and local inflammation by the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and its function as an interface between the brain and the immune system. The clinical implications of this novel mechanism also are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cholinergic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System* / drug effects
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / immunology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Vagus Nerve / metabolism

Substances

  • Cholinergic Agents