The autonomic nervous system plays critical roles in maintaining homeostasis in humans, directly regulating inflammation by altering the activity of the immune system. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway is a well-studied neuroimmune interaction involving the vagus nerve. CD4-positive T cells expressing β2 adrenergic receptors and macrophages expressing the alpha 7 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the spleen receive neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and acetylcholine and are key mediators of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. Recent studies have demonstrated that vagus nerve stimulation, ultrasound, and restraint stress elicit protective effects against renal ischemia-reperfusion injury. These protective effects are induced primarily via activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway. In addition to these immunological roles, nervous systems are directly related to homeostasis of renal physiology. Whole-kidney three-dimensional visualization using the tissue clearing technique CUBIC (clear, unobstructed brain/body imaging cocktails and computational analysis) has illustrated that renal sympathetic nerves are primarily distributed around arteries in the kidneys and denervated after ischemia-reperfusion injury. In contrast, artificial renal sympathetic denervation has a protective effect against kidney disease progression in murine models. Further studies are needed to elucidate how neural networks are involved in progression of kidney disease.
Keywords: Autonomic nervous system; Cholinergic neurons; Imaging; Optogenetics; Sympathetic nervous system; Vagus nerve stimulation; three-dimensional.
Conflict of interest statement
Reiko Inagi has received research funding from Kyowa-Hakko-Kirin. Sho Hasegawa and Tsuyoshi Inoue have no competing interests.
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