Crosstalk between the nociceptive and immune systems in host defence and disease

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Jul;16(7):389-402. doi: 10.1038/nrn3946.


Nociceptors and immune cells both protect the host from potential threats to homeostasis. There is growing evidence for bidirectional signalling between these two systems, and the underlying mechanisms are beginning to be elucidated. An understanding is emerging of how both the adaptive and innate immune systems can activate and sensitize nociceptors, and, reciprocally, how nociceptors modulate immune cells. In this Review, we discuss how these interactions can be adaptive and useful to the organism but also consider when such signalling might be maladaptive and pathophysiological, contributing to immune-mediated diseases and persistent pain states.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Host Specificity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology
  • Immune System Diseases / metabolism
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Nociceptors / immunology*
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Pain / immunology
  • Pain / metabolism