Autonomic dysfunction, immune regulation, and multiple sclerosis

Clin Auton Res. 2016 Feb;26(1):23-31. doi: 10.1007/s10286-015-0325-7. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Objective: To review existing evidence regarding interactions between the autonomic nervous system and the immune system functions in multiple sclerosis.

Methods: We reviewed the literature regarding new insights linking autonomic dysfunction to immune deregulation in multiple sclerosis, with particular focus on the specific influence of sympathetic and parasympathetic dysfunction on inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes.

Results: Autonomic dysfunction is common in multiple sclerosis, representing a significant cause of disability. Several connections between pathologic immune pathways and the autonomic nervous system function were found.

Conclusions: Autonomic dysfunction may enhance inflammatory and neurodegenerative pathways that are of major importance in multiple sclerosis. Autonomic dysfunction can present with highly variable manifestations. Sympathetic and parasympathetic dysfunction displays different patterns in multiple sclerosis, with specific impact on inflammation and neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Autonomic dysfunction; Clinical manifestations; Immune regulation; Inflammation; Multiple sclerosis; Neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*