This is the second post in a four-part series from the article “Children’s Immune System” by Keith Wassung.  The series focuses on the relationship between a child’s immune system and their spinal health.  Last week’s selection provided an introduction to the child’s immune system. This week’s selection examines the link between the nervous and immune systems. 

 

Part 2: Link Between the Nervous and Immune Systems

 

Graphic of the spine, skull and ribcage

The focus of science has shifted from separate entities of the immune system to an interactive immunology model. In the neural-immune concept, the brain has specific, two-pathways to the immune system.” 1
THE LANCET

 

“It used to be dogma that the brain was shut away from the actions of the immune system, shielded from the outside forces of nature. But that’s not how it is at all. It turns out that the brain talks directly to the immune system, sending commands that control the body’s inflammatory response to infection and autoimmune diseases.” 2
Medical News Today

 

The nervous system plays an important role in both the control and activity of the immune response. The sheer power of the brain to affect the body as a whole and general state of health is amazing.” 3
HUMAN ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY

 

Dr. Robert Ader, a psychologist at the University Of Rochester School Of Medicine, performed the key experiments to prove the brain-nervous system immunes system connection. The following summarizes the essential evidence of the connection between the brain, the nervous system, and the immune system:

Diagram of the nervous system signals to the immune system

  • NERVE ENDINGS ARE FOUND IN THE TISSUES OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
    The central nervous system is linked to both the bone marrow and thymus, where immune system cells are produced and developed and to the spleen and lymph nodes, where those cells are stored.

 

  • CHANGES IN THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM ALTER IMMUNE RESPONSES AND TRIGGERING AN IMMUNE RESPONSE ALTERS CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM ACTIVITY.
    Researchers have found that inducing an immune response causes nerve cells in the hypothalamus to become more active and the brain cell activity peaks at precisely the same time that levels of antibodies are at their highest. The brain monitors immunological changes closely.

 

  • LYMPHOCYTES ARE CHEMICALLY RESPONSIVE TO HORMONES AND NEUROTRANSMITTERS.
    Immune system cells have receptor-molecular structures on their surfaces that allow them to receive information from the nervous system and other parts of the immune system.

 

Nervous and Immune System Disorders Linked in a Variety of Diseases

Recent advances in understanding a variety of diseases reveal complex interactions between the nervous system and the immune system. Neurological complications are associated with a breakdown in normal immune system functioning. According to Edward Goetzl, of the University of California in San Francisco, “there was alway s a sense that the nervous system is involved in disease, so the idea of a link between the nervous system and the immune system is not new.” 4

SCIENCE

 

REFERENCES

  1. Edwards, S. (1995, January 14). Lancet.

  2. Medical News Today, Direct Route From Brain To Immune System Discovered By Scientists, Oct, 2007.
  3. Marieb, E. Human Anatomy and Physiology. Benjamin Cummings Publishing Company, p. 179.  
  4. Barnes, D. (1986, April 11). “Nervous System Disorders Linked in a Variety of Diseases.”Science, pp. 160-161.