The Immune—Neuroendocrine Network
A remarkable advance in medical sciences during the last part of this century has been based on the implementation of refined techniques that allowed a deep analysis of cellular processes at molecular levels. This analytical approach has not, however, been proportionally complemented by studies into how cellular and molecular mechanisms are physiologically integrated and controlled in a whole organism. A clear example is provided by the evolution of our present knowledge of the immune system. We now know the structure of the main molecules that recognize internal and external antigens, and how a large diversity in these structures arises. The cell subtypes that participate in an immune response, how these cells are activated and interact, the main immune-derived soluble mediators involved in these processes, and the operation of well-programmed autoregulatory signals have been clarified to a large extent. However, the understanding of the immune system from “inside” has raised essential questions about its physiology, such as: What are the limits of the autonomy that immune cells display? How do immune cells and their products interact with integrative neuroendocrine agencies and with other bodily systems? What are the consequences of such interactions for the control of the activity of the immune system itself? To what extent are other physiological systems affected by the complex process of an immune response in an intact organism? In our view, studies that would contribute to answer these questions constitute the basis of immunophysiology. In this chapter, we shall discuss some concepts, methodological approaches and data related to interactions between the immune system and neuroendocrine mechanisms, mostly based on examples derived from our own work. Particular emphasis is put on immune interactions with the hypothalamus—pituitaryadrenal (HPA) axis and the central and autonomic nervous systems.
KeywordsNewcastle Disease Virus Corticosterone Level Glucocorticoid Level Neuroendocrine Mechanism Neuroendocrine Change
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