Role of vasoactive intestinal peptide in inflammation and autoimmunity

Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2005 Nov;6(11):1116-23.


Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a peptide produced by immune cells, exerts a wide spectrum of immunological functions that control the homeostasis of the immune system. In the last decade, VIP has been clearly identified as a potent anti-inflammatory factor, both in innate and adaptive immunity. In innate immunity, this peptide inhibits the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines from macrophages, microglia and dendritic cells. In addition, VIP reduces the expression of co-stimulatory molecules on antigen-presenting cells, and therefore reduces stimulation of antigen-specific CD4 T-cells. In terms of adaptive immunity, VIP promotes T-helper (Th)2-type responses, and reduces inflammatory Th1-type responses. Several of the molecular mechanisms involved in the inhibition of cytokine and chemokine expression, and in the preferential development and/or survival of Th2 effectors are known. Therefore, VIP and its analogs have been proposed as promising alternative candidates to existing therapies for the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The aim of this review is to update knowledge of the cellular and molecular events that are relevant to VIP function in the immune system. The central functions that VIP plays in cellular processes is being recognized and attention is being focused on this important peptide with regard to exciting new candidates for therapeutic intervention and drug development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / immunology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Drug Design
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / immunology
  • Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism*
  • Shock, Septic / drug therapy
  • Shock, Septic / immunology
  • Shock, Septic / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / immunology
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / metabolism*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Receptors, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide