Sympathetic Modulation of Immunity: Relevance to Disease

Cell Immunol. Mar-Apr 2008;252(1-2):27-56. doi: 10.1016/j.cellimm.2007.09.005. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Optimal host defense against pathogens requires cross-talk between the nervous and immune systems. This paper reviews sympathetic-immune interaction, one major communication pathway, and its importance for health and disease. Sympathetic innervation of primary and secondary immune organs is described, as well as evidence for neurotransmission with cells of the immune system as targets. Most research thus far has focused on neural-immune modulation in secondary lymphoid organs, has revealed complex sympathetic modulation resulting in both potentiation and inhibition of immune functions. SNS-immune interaction may enhance immune readiness during disease- or injury-induced 'fight' responses. Research also indicate that dysregulation of the SNS can significantly affect the progression of immune-mediated diseases. However, a better understanding of neural-immune interactions is needed to develop strategies for treatment of immune-mediated diseases that are designed to return homeostasis and restore normal functioning neural-immune networks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / innervation
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / immunology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / immunology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents