Mucus production (red) in the lung under inflammatory conditions. Picture courtesy of Dr Saya Moriyama.
Cells in the nervous system can “put the brakes” on the immune response to infections in the gut and lungs to prevent excessive inflammation, according to research by Weill Cornell Medicine scientists. This insight may one day lead to new ways to treat diseases caused by unchecked inflammation, such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
The study, published March 1 in Science, provides some clues about what might be going wrong in these diseases, which have become more common in industrialized countries, and in helminth infections, which are still a major public health problem in less-industrialized countries. It also may explain how some existing treatments for diseases like asthma work and point to new treatment strategies.
“There is a crosstalk between the nervous system and the immune system, and that plays an important role in regulating acute and chronic inflammation,” said Dr. David Artis, director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the Michael Kors Professor of Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Those two organ systems are closely interacting and play an important role in human health and disease.” To continue reading...