Kristen Sparrow • October 05, 2017
The key concepts for our discussion highlighted below. In acupuncture we are triggering nociceptive responses. In using certain acupuncture points, and in some instances vagal enhancement with TaVNS, we are taking advantage of these systems. A sort of “biohacking.” There is some evidence (and here) that acupuncture decreases pro-inflammatory markers, at least in mice.
Sensory and autonomic neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) play a critical role in regulating the immune system during tissue inflammation and host defense. Recent studies have identified the molecular mechanisms underlying the bidirectional communication between the nervous system and the immune system. Here, we highlight the studies that demonstrate the importance of the neuro-immune interactions in health and disease. Nociceptor sensory neurons detect immune mediators to produce pain, and release neuropeptides that act on the immune system to regulate inflammation. In parallel, neural reflex circuits including the vagus nerve-based inflammatory reflex are physiological regulators of inflammatory responses and cytokine production. In transplantation, neuro-immune communication could significantly impact the processes of host-pathogen defense, organ rejection, and wound healing. Emerging approaches to target the PNS such as bioelectronics could be useful in improving the outcome of transplantation. Therefore, understanding how the nervous system shapes the immune response could have important therapeutic ramifications for transplantation medicine.