The neuroimmune response during stress: A physiological perspective

Immunity. 2021 Sep 14;54(9):1933-1947. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2021.08.023.


Stress is an essential adaptive response that enables the organism to cope with challenges and restore homeostasis. Different stressors require distinctive corrective responses in which immune cells play a critical role. Hence, effects of stress on immunity may vary accordingly. Indeed, epidemiologically, stress can induce either inflammation or immune suppression in an organism. However, in the absence of a conceptual framework, these effects appear chaotic, leading to confusion. Here, we examine how stressor diversity is imbedded in the neuroimmune axis. Stressors differ in the brain patterns they induce, diversifying the neuronal and endocrine mediators dispatched to the periphery and generating a wide range of potential immune effects. Uncovering this complexity and diversity of the immune response to different stressors will allow us to understand the involvement of stress in pathological conditions, identify ways to modulate it, and even harness the therapeutic potential embedded in an adaptive response to stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*