Somatosensory and autonomic neuronal regulation of the immune response

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2022 Mar;23(3):157-171. doi: 10.1038/s41583-021-00555-4. Epub 2022 Jan 7.


Bidirectional communication between the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the immune system is a crucial part of an effective but balanced mammalian response to invading pathogens, tissue damage and inflammatory stimuli. Here, we review how somatosensory and autonomic neurons regulate immune cellular responses at barrier tissues and in peripheral organs. Immune cells express receptors for neuronal mediators, including neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, allowing neurons to influence their function in acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. Distinct subsets of peripheral sensory, sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric neurons are able to signal to innate and adaptive immune cells to modulate their cellular functions. In this Review, we highlight recent studies defining the molecular mechanisms by which neuroimmune signalling mediates tissue homeostasis and pathology. Understanding the neural circuitry that regulates immune responses can offer novel targets for the treatment of a wide array of diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunity
  • Mammals
  • Neuroimmunomodulation*
  • Neuropeptides*
  • Peripheral Nervous System


  • Neuropeptides