Neuro-immune interactions via the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.Life Sci. 2007 May 30; 80(24-25):2325-9.LS
The overproduction of TNF and other cytokines is associated with the pathophysiology of numerous diseases. Controlling cytokine synthesis and release is critical for preventing unrestrained inflammation and maintaining health. Recent studies identified an efferent vagus nerve-based mechanism termed "the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway" that controls cytokine production and inflammation. Here we review current advances related to the role of this pathway in neuro-immune interactions that prevent excessive inflammation. Experimental evidence indicates that vagus nerve cholinergic anti-inflammatory signaling requires alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors expressed on non-neuronal cytokine-producing cells. Alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonists inhibit cytokine release and protect animals in a variety of experimental lethal inflammatory models. Knowledge related to the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can be exploited in therapeutic approaches directed towards counteracting abnormal chronic and hyper-activated inflammatory responses.