Psychoneuroimmunology--cross-talk between the immune and nervous systems

J Neurol. 2007 May;254 Suppl 2:II8-11. doi: 10.1007/s00415-007-2003-8.


Psychoneuroimmunology is a relatively new field of study that investigates interactions between behaviour and the immune system, mediated by the endocrine and nervous systems. The immune and central nervous system (CNS) maintain extensive communication. On the one hand, the brain modulates the immune system by hardwiring sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves (autonomic nervous system) to lymphoid organs. On the other hand, neuroendocrine hormones such as corticotrophin-releasing hormone or substance P regulate cytokine balance. Vice versa, the immune system modulates brain activity including sleep and body temperature. Based on a close functional and anatomical link, the immune and nervous systems act in a highly reciprocal manner. From fever to stress, the influence of one system on the other has evolved in an intricate manner to help sense danger and to mount an appropriate adaptive response. Over recent decades, reasonable evidence has emerged that these brain-to-immune interactions are highly modulated by psychological factors which influence immunity and immune system-mediated disease.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Inflammation
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pain
  • Psychoneuroimmunology / history
  • Psychoneuroimmunology / trends*
  • Stress, Psychological