Navigation Links
Embargoed Until Monday, July 21 at 5 p.m. EST; Scientists Figure Out How the Immune System and Brain Communicate to Control Disease

In a major step in understanding how the nervous system and the immune system interact, scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have identified a new anatomical path through which the brain and the spleen communicate.

Manhasset, NY (PRWEB) July 21, 2008 -- In a major step in understanding how the nervous system and the immune system interact, scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have identified a new anatomical path through which the brain and the spleen communicate.

The spleen, once thought to be an unnecessary bit of tissue, is now regarded as an organ where important information from the nervous reaches the immune system. Understanding this process could ultimately lead to treatments that target the spleen to send the right message when fighting human disease.

Mauricio Rosas-Ballina, MD, working with colleagues in the laboratory of Kevin J. Tracey, MD, figured out that macrophages in the spleen were making tumor necrosis factor, a powerful inflammation-producing molecule. When they stimulated the vagus nerve, a long nerve that goes from the base of the brain into thoracic and abdominal organs, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production in the spleen decreased. This study complements previous research performed in Dr. Tracey's laboratory, which showed that stimulation of the vagus nerve increases survival in laboratory models of sepsis.

The findings were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many laboratories at The Feinstein Institute study the immune system in health and in disease. Every year, about 500,000 people develop severe sepsis, a syndrome triggered when the body's immune system wages an attack on the body that is well beyond its normal response to an invader. Sepsis kills about 225,000 deaths in the United States each year.

A hundred years ago, the spleen (located in the upper quadrant of the abdomen) was thought to be only reservoir for blood. It has only been in recent years that scientists discovered that the spleen is a manufacturing plant for immune cells, and a site where immune cells and nerves interact. The spleen defends the body against infection, particularly encapsulated bacteria that circulate through the blood.

The hope is to modulate other immune functions like antibody production through the spleen (via vagus nerve stimulation) as a way to modify the course of infections and possibly some autoimmune disorders.

Dr. Rosas-Ballina began following the winding path of the vagus nerve to establish the route it follows to reach the spleen. He was trying, without much luck, to find fibers of the vagus nerve in this organ. And then he went a little further south to the splenic nerve, the nerve that innervates the spleen. Their results indicate that the vagus nerve inherently communicates with the splenic nerve to suppress TNF production by macrophages in the spleen.

According to the prevailing paradigm, the autonomic nervous system is anatomically and functionally divided in sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, which act in opposition to regulate organ function.

"The division between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems is not clear cut," said Dr. Rosas-Ballina, explaining that the vagus nerve (the major parasympathetic nerve) acts through the splenic nerve to modulate immune function.

He said that results of this study suggest that there may be two separate ways the brain communicates with the spleen to regulate immune function. This points the way to a possible solution for treating sepsis. It may be more effective to take advantage of the central nervous system to control cells of the spleen. This way, "you know where the treatment is going," said Dr. Rosas-Ballina.

About The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Headquartered in Manhasset, NY, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is home to international scientific leaders in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, psychiatric disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, human genetics, leukemia, lymphoma, neuroimmunology, and medicinal chemistry.

The Feinstein Institute, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, ranks in the top 6th percentile of all National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research centers. Feinstein researchers are developing new drugs and drug targets, and producing results where science meets the patient. For more information, please visit or

Contact: Jamie Talan, science writer-in-residence
516-562-1232 (p) 631-682-8781 (c)


Read the full story at

Source: PRWeb
Copyright©2008 Vocus, Inc.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. ONE YEAR Until the New Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Opens in Lawrenceville
2. Mandatory Accreditation Delayed Until September 2009
3. Pelosi on Bush Veto of SCHIP: Democrats Will Not Rest Until 10 Million Children Have Access to Health Care
4. Two Weeks Until National School Backpack Awareness Day
5. NEWSWEEK: Media Lead Sheet - July 7-14, 2008 Double Issue (On Newsstands Monday, June 30)
6. NEWSWEEK: Media Lead Sheet/May 26, 2008 Issue (on newsstands Monday, May 19, 2008)
7. NEWSWEEK: Media Lead Sheet/May 19, 2008 Issue (on newsstands Monday, May 12, 2008)
8., inc. to Announce First Quarter 2008 Results During Conference Call on Monday, May 5, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. ET
9. NEWSWEEK: Media Lead Sheet/April 21, 2008 Issue (on newsstands Monday, April 14).
10. Cartoon Network and the FDA to Launch Year II Expansion of SPOT THE BLOCK Nutrition Awareness Campaign on Monday, April 7
11. Final Episode of Charlie Rose Science Series Set to Air Monday, April 7th
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an article published ... Association meeting in Washington D.C. revolved around the fact that proper dental care, both ... talk stressed the link between periodontal disease (more commonly referred to as gum disease) ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The rapid speed at ... people age, more care is needed, especially with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive ... being overworked. The forgotten part of this equation: 80 percent of medical care ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... "When ... said an inventor from Hillside, N.J. "Many people catch diseases simply from sitting ... individuals will always be protected from germs." , He developed the patent-pending QUDRATECS ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: Fashion is a ... X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add an informative sidebar to ... title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, bars, and text with ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Intellitec ... Dynamics SL User Group (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official group for end users ... Dynamics SL software users, partners, industry experts and representatives. Intellitec Solutions’ membership status ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ... Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, ... --> ) has announced ... Horizons and Growth Strategies in the German ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... addition of the  "2016 Future Horizons ... Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: Supplier ... Emerging Opportunities"  report to their offering.  ... announced the addition of the  "2016 ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in the ... Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" ... --> --> This new 247-page ... therapeutic drug monitoring market, including emerging tests, technologies, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: