Reciprocal regulation of the neural and innate immune systems

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Aug 5;11(9):625-32. doi: 10.1038/nri3042.


Innate immune responses are regulated by microorganisms and cell death, as well as by a third class of stress signal from the nervous and endocrine systems. The innate immune system also feeds back, through the production of cytokines, to regulate the function of the central nervous system (CNS), and this has effects on behaviour. These signals provide an extrinsic regulatory circuit that links physiological, social and environmental conditions, as perceived by the CNS, with transcriptional 'decision-making' in leukocytes. CNS-mediated regulation of innate immune responses optimizes total organism fitness and provides new opportunities for therapeutic control of chronic infectious, inflammatory and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Endocrine System / immunology
  • Genes, MHC Class II
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Cytokines