Natural Immunity And The Neuroendocrine System

What are some of the general features of the neuroendocrineimmune system? The immune system has been referred to as the mobile brain because of shared molecules between the nervous, endocrine and immune systems, the three regulators that govern and control homeostasis—a balanced milieu. Opinions concerning the significance of these interrelations are divided. There are those who view the whole organism and therefore favor a unifying theme with respect to the three systems: central nervous system (CNS), endocrine system (ES), and immune system, (IS). Still others, the reductionists, prefer to retain a strict separation despite substantial evidence indicating enormous overlap. Within the CNS, neuropeptides are small molecules responsible for transmitting certain signals. In vertebrates the hypothalamus produces several of these transmitters, that cause pain (e.g., substance P) or suppress it (e.g., endorphins, enkephalins). In the ES the inner portion of the adrenal medulla, when stimulated by sympathetic nerves, releases adrenaline, causing effects similar to but more than that induced by prolonged noradrenaline (NA). The outer region of the adrenal cortex, when stimulated by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary, secretes hydrocortisone (Cortisol) whose synthetic derivatives have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Cytokines are present and active within the IS. The most convincing immune-nervous-endocrine link is the induction of fever by TNF, IL-1,

IFNs. With respect to natural immunity, there are several characteristics, components or activities that are apparently shared by invertebrates and vertebrates. These include, complement, lysis, activities of leukocytes such as cytotoxicity and NK cell activity (Tables I and II). According to Ottaviani, there is evidence for ACTH and for cytokines throughout the animal kingdom [37,38],

According to Salzet et al., (2003), during evolution, invertebrates and vertebrates seem to possess common signaling molecules e.g., neuropeptides [47], Complete hormonal-enzymatic systems for the biosynthesis of opioid peptides have been found in both the central nervous system (CNS) and immune systems (IS). These signaling molecules act as immunomodulators in circulating blood. In vertebrates, release occurs during stress (cognitive or pathogens), that triggers the hypothalamo-hypophysial-adrenal (HPA) axis. Neuropeptides are also employed as conserved messengers that initiate and stimulate innate immune responses in invertebrates and in humans. Given this new information concerning mammalian-like neuroendocrine processes found in invertebrates, in all probability, this system originated in "simple" animals suggesting a referral to the mammalian neuroendocrine system as invertebrate-like. Cross talk between nervous and immune systems has an ancient evolutionary origin essential to homeostasis [48-53],

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