The inflammatory reflex: the role of the vagus nerve in regulation of immune functions

Nevner mekanismene bak hvordan vagus nerven demper betennelsesreaksjoner og kan bidra i autoimmune sykdommer.


Experimental studies published in past years have shown an important role of the vagus nerve in regulating immune functions. Afferent pathways of this cranial nerve transmit signals related to tissue damage and immune reactions to the brain stem. After central processing of these signals, activated efferent vagal pathways modulate inflammatory reactions through inhibiting the synthesis and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by immune cells. Therefore, pathways localized in the vagus nerve constitute the afferent and efferent arms of the so-called «inflammatory reflex» that participates in negative feedback regulation of inflammation in peripheral tissues. Activation of efferent pathways of the vagus nerve significantly reduces tissue damage in several models of diseases in experimental animals. Clinical studies also indicate the importance of the vagus nerve in regulating inflammatory reactions in humans. It is suggested that alteration of the inflammatory reflex underlies the etiopathogenesis of diseases characterized by exaggerated production of pro-inflammatory mediators. Therefore, research into the inflammatory reflex may create the basis for developing new approaches in the treatment of diseases with inflammatory components.

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