Neural regulation of innate immunity: a coordinated nonspecific host response to pathogens

Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Apr;6(4):318-28. doi: 10.1038/nri1810.


The central nervous system (CNS) regulates innate immune responses through hormonal and neuronal routes. The neuroendocrine stress response and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems generally inhibit innate immune responses at systemic and regional levels, whereas the peripheral nervous system tends to amplify local innate immune responses. These systems work together to first activate and amplify local inflammatory responses that contain or eliminate invading pathogens, and subsequently to terminate inflammation and restore host homeostasis. Here, I review these regulatory mechanisms and discuss the evidence indicating that the CNS can be considered as integral to acute-phase inflammatory responses to pathogens as the innate immune system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / immunology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / immunology
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Immunological
  • Nervous System / immunology*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / immunology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / physiology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / immunology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Neuropeptides