Nervous System Starts and Stops the Inflammation
Inflammation? Forget about the immune system… It is all about the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway!
It is not the immune system what tells the immune cells what to do…
It is actually impossible because immune cells are the part of the immune system so how could part of (something) immune system could tell itself what to do?
Sure, immune cells cooperate and communicate but they must have and do have some “boss” – it is the nervous system.
Nervous system controls the development of all organs and parts of the body. Subsequently during our lives it is the nervous system which often lacks as a result of stress, bad diet, malnutrition and infections.
These negative effects of environment are the underlying cause of various health problems and symptoms. Virtually all chronic health problems are accompanied by inflammation and actually the “Inflammation Causes The Symptoms We Call Diseases”.
Yes, it is mostly the inflammation what hurts us not the underlying problem itself.
Before you continue reading this article I recommend you to watch the next video where Dr. Kevin Tracey explains his work in easy to understand way during his TEDMED presentation:
Vagus nerve, TNF-alpha and alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor connection
The alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor strongly affects the inflammation and anti-inflammatory pathways as you already know.
The powerful effects of TNF as major inflammatory molecule produced by the body are summarized in the next abstract of the study “Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha7 subunit is an essential regulator of inflammation” published in Nature in 2003.
Excessive inflammation and tumour-necrosis factor (TNF) synthesis cause morbidity and mortality in diverse human diseases including endotoxaemia, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Highly conserved, endogenous mechanisms normally regulate the magnitude of innate immune responses and prevent excessive inflammation. The nervous system, through the vagus nerve, can inhibit significantly and rapidly the release of macrophage TNF, and attenuate systemic inflammatory responses. This physiological mechanism, termed the ‘cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway’ has major implications in immunology and in therapeutics; however, the identity of the essential macrophage acetylcholine-mediated (cholinergic) receptor that responds to vagus nerve signals was previously unknown. Here we report that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha7 subunit is required for acetylcholine inhibition of macrophage TNF release. Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve inhibits TNF synthesis in wild-type mice, but fails to inhibit TNF synthesis in alpha7-deficient mice. Thus, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha7 subunit is essential for inhibiting cytokine synthesis by the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.
The immune system has always the reason why it activates and starts the inflammation. Macrophages and neutrophils do not turn themselves against the own body – NEVER. And all those “autoimmune” diseases are not really autoimmune without some existing underlying cause – usually bacterial, viral or fungal infection but also due to chemical toxicity.
The innate immune system is activated by infection and injury to release pro-inflammatory cytokines, which activate macrophages and neutrophils and modulate specific cellular responses. The magnitude of the cytokine response is critical, because a deficient response may result in secondary infections, while an excessive response may be more injurious than the original insult.
The researchers found out that vagus nerve which controls major organs (like heart, lungs and digestive tract) and important muscles in the body is capable of regulation of the inflammatory response. It is very effective in induction and suppression of inflammation which can be very localized like it surely is in case of psoriasis where clearly just some spots on the skin are red, scaly and inflamed.
If autoimmunity against the skin were the real cause of psoriasis there would be all 100% of the skin red and scaly.
Efferent signals in the vagus nerve provide a direct mechanism for neural regulation of the immune response that is rapid, localized, and