Cholinergic Modulation of the Immune System in Neuroinflammatory Diseases

Diseases. 2021 Apr 12;9(2):29. doi: 10.3390/diseases9020029.


Frequent diseases of the CNS, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and psychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia), elicit a neuroinflammatory response that contributes to the neurodegenerative disease process itself. The immune and nervous systems use the same mediators, receptors, and cells to regulate the immune and nervous systems as well as neuro-immune interactions. In various neurodegenerative diseases, peripheral inflammatory mediators and infiltrating immune cells from the periphery cause exacerbation to current injury in the brain. Acetylcholine (ACh) plays a crucial role in the peripheral and central nervous systems, in fact, other than cells of the CNS, the peripheral immune cells also possess a cholinergic system. The findings on peripheral cholinergic signaling, and the activation of the "cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway" mediated by ACh binding to α7 nAChR as one of the possible mechanisms for controlling inflammation, have restarted interest in cholinergic-mediated pathological processes and in the new potential therapeutic target for neuro-inflammatory-degenerative diseases. Herein, we focus on recent progress in the modulatory mechanisms of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in neuroinflammatory diseases.

Keywords: acetylcholine; cognitive impairment; immune system; neuroinflammation; α7 nAChR.

Publication types

  • Review