A Neurotransmitter System That Regulates Macrophage Pro-Inflammatory Functions

J Neuroimmunol. 2009 Nov 30;216(1-2):20-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2009.06.024. Epub 2009 Sep 3.


Neurotransmitters released through peripheral and autonomic nerves play an important role in the signaling from the cells of the nervous system to lymphocytes, macrophages and other cells of the immune system. Macrophages are related to numerous physiological and pathological inflammatory processes since their cytokines play an important role in the defensive responses against invasive microorganisms, atherosclerosis progress, insulin resistance, behavior deviation, hematopoiesis feedback, degenerative chronic diseases and the stimulation of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-adrenal axis. Production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by macrophages is the main target for the modulatory activity of diverse neurotransmitters. In this brief review, we show how some neurotransmitters released by the central or the autonomic nervous systems down-regulate peripheral macrophages' inflammatory functions to balance immune protective mechanisms, although they can also promote the collateral progress of diverse diseases. The possible therapeutic uses of some neurotransmitters and the agonists or antagonist of their respective receptors are included as well.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Immunomodulation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Nervous System / immunology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / immunology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / therapeutic use


  • Neurotransmitter Agents