The Immune System Under the Regulation of the Autonomic Nervous System
Multicellular organisms developed an autonomic nervous system to make it possible for a single cell to cooperate with others when they act for a single purpose. Many cells in living beings, therefore, have surface adrenergic or cholinergic receptors which accept stimuli from the autonomic nervous system. Leukocytes which constitute the immune system are no exception to this rule. Two major components of leukocytes, namely, granulocytes and lymphocytes, have adrenergic receptors and cholinergic receptors, respectively. In this regard, granulocytes are activated in number and function by sympathetic nerve stimulation, whereas for lymphocytes this is done by parasympathetic nerve stimulation. This new concept is extremely important in our understanding of the close relationship among physical conditions (e.g., stress), immune functions, and inflammation (e.g., tissue damage).
Key wordsImmune system Autonomic nervous system Lymphocytes Granulocytes Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
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