An Integrated View on Neuronal Subsets in the Peripheral Nervous System and Their Role in Immunoregulation

Front Immunol. 2021 Jul 12;12:679055. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.679055. eCollection 2021.


The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory circuits that respond to external and internal stimuli and effector circuits that adapt physiologic functions to environmental challenges. Identifying neurotransmitters and neuropeptides and the corresponding receptors on immune cells implies an essential role for the nervous system in regulating immune reactions. Vice versa, neurons express functional cytokine receptors to respond to inflammatory signals directly. Recent advances in single-cell and single-nuclei sequencing have provided an unprecedented depth in neuronal analysis and allowed to refine the classification of distinct neuronal subsets of the peripheral nervous system. Delineating the sensory and immunoregulatory capacity of different neuronal subsets could inform a better understanding of the response happening in tissues that coordinate physiologic functions, tissue homeostasis and immunity. Here, we summarize current subsets of peripheral neurons and discuss neuronal regulation of immune responses, focusing on neuro-immune interactions in the gastrointestinal tract. The nervous system as a central coordinator of immune reactions and tissue homeostasis may predispose for novel promising therapeutic approaches for a large variety of diseases including but not limited to chronic inflammation.

Keywords: dorsal root ganglia (DRG); enteric nervous system; function of neurons; neuro-immune interactions; neuronal classification; peripheral nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / cytology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / immunology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Biomarkers