About this Research Topic
The last decades of neuroimmunological research have revolutionized our vision of brain functioning. Central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis is now viewed as the result of complex interactions among neurons, brain resident immune cells, namely microglia and astrocytes, and blood-derived adaptive and innate immune cells. The expression of functional receptors for soluble mediators like cytokines and chemokines on the surface of neuronal cells makes them responsive to the actions of the immune system. In addition to this, the recently discovered ability of immune cells to enter the brain has widened our knowledge of how the immune system contributes to neuronal cell plasticity. On the other hand, it has been clearly shown that neuronal activity itself regulates immune function, suggesting an even more complex scenario of cellular and molecular interactions.
Noteworthy, accumulating evidence indicates that, reciprocally, alterations in the communication pathways between the CNS and the immune system contribute to many pathological conditions that were initially attributed to strict organ dysfunction. Indeed, dysregulation of the bidirectional immune-neuronal communication has been claimed to play a role in the development of several neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Anxiety and Depression Disorders, and organ-specific pathological conditions, in particular in various organ-specific autoimmune diseases, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Autoimmune thyroid disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. Such an intricate relation between the two systems has changed the therapeutic approach to the above disorders, promoting, among others, non-pharmacological interventions, like exercise, environmental enrichment, and social interactions, by virtue of their ability to influence both neuronal and immune function.
This Research Topic aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the homeostatic interactions between neurons and immune cells and their impact on nervous and immune system functions. We welcome authors to submit Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, and Perspective articles focusing on:
1. preclinical in vivo and in vitro studies providing evidence of the physiological and the aberrant communication between the immune system and neurons in the regulation of brain plasticity, neurogenesis, and immune functions during neurological and psychiatric disorders;
2. preclinical in vivo and in vitro studies about the specific contribution of immune cells (T cells, monocytes, microglia) and/or immune mediators (cytokines, chemokines, and others) to physiological and altered neuronal activity in neurological and psychiatric disorders;
3. preclinical in vivo and in vitro studies on the neuronal to the immune cell communications in the development of immune-mediated diseases;
4. studies on the immune-brain axes as a target for pharmacological therapies. These include immunomodulatory drugs, monoclonal antibodies against specific immune components and non-pharmacological treatments such as exercise, environmental enrichment, and social interactions.
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