Modulation of dental inflammation by the sympathetic nervous system

J Dent Res. 2006 Jun;85(6):488-95. doi: 10.1177/154405910608500602.


Recent findings have indicated that immune responses are subjected to modulation by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Moreover, the findings show that the SNS inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, while stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. The present review is an attempt to summarize the current results on how the SNS affects inflammation in dental tissues. In dental tissues, it has been found that the SNS is significant for recruitment of inflammatory cells such as CD 43+ granulocytes. Sympathetic nerves appear to have an inhibitory effect on osteoclasts, odontoclasts, and on IL-1alpha production. The SNS stimulates reparative dentin production, since reparative dentin formation was reduced after sympathectomy. Sprouting of sympathetic nerve fibers occurs in chronically inflamed dental pulp, and neural imbalance caused by unilateral sympathectomy recruits immunoglobulin-producing cells to the dental pulp. In conclusion, this article presents evidence in support of interactions between the sympathetic nervous system and dental inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dental Pulp / immunology*
  • Dental Pulp / innervation
  • Dentin, Secondary / immunology
  • Granulocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / immunology
  • Leukosialin / immunology
  • Neuropeptide Y / immunology
  • Pulpitis / immunology*
  • Sympathectomy
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Leukosialin
  • Neuropeptide Y