Neurochemical Research

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 1–6 | Cite as

Central and Peripheral Cytokines Mediate Immune-Brain Connectivity

  • Hugo O. BesedovskyEmail author
  • Adriana del Rey


The immune system is a homeostatic system that contributes to maintain the constancy of the molecular and cellular components of the organism. Immune cells can detect the intrusion of foreign antigens or alteration of self-components and send information to the central nervous system (CNS) about this kind of perturbations, acting as a receptor sensorial organ. The brain can respond to such signals by emitting neuro/endocrine signals capable of affecting immune reactivity. Thus, the immune system, as other physiologic systems, is under brain control. Under disease conditions, when priorities for survival change, the immune system can, within defined limits, reset brain-integrated neuro-endocrine mechanisms in order to favour immune processes at the expenses of other physiologic systems. In addition, some cytokines initially conceived as immune products, such as IL-1 and IL-6, are also produced in the “healthy” brain by glial cells and even by some neurons. These and other cytokines have the capacity to affect synaptic plasticity acting as mediators of interactions between astrocytes and pre- and post-synaptic neurons that constitute what is actually defined as a tripartite synapse. Since the production of cytokines in the brain is affected by peripheral immune and central neural signals, it is conceivable that tripartite synapses can, in turn, serve as a relay system in immune-CNS communication.


Cytokines IL-1 IL-6 Synaptic plasticity Memory Learning Glucose homeostasis Tripartite synapse 



This work was supported by the DFG (RE 1451/3-1).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department ImmunophysiologyInstitute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Medical FacultyMarburgGermany

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