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Study States That CNS Could Regulate Arthritis

A new research suggests that the CNS can profoundly influence immune responses, and control the role of stress in inflammatory diseases.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine// have shown in a model of rheumatoid arthritis, that the central nervous system (CNS) could perceive and vary the inflammation in the joints. The researchers have suggested in their study that is to be published in the September edition of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine that the CNS can deeply influence the immune responses, and might even contribute in understanding the so-called placebo effects and the role of stress in inflammatory diseases.

The central nervous system is not just a passive responder to the outside world, but is fully able to control many previously unanticipated physiologic responses, including immunity and inflammation," said Gary S. Firestein, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, and Director of UCSD's Clinical Investigation Institute, who led the study.

The UCSD research team found that blocking key signaling enzymes in the CNS of rats resulted in decreased joint inflammation and destruction.

"This is an entirely new approach," Firestein said. ?§Instead of targeting enzymes at the actual site of disease, our hypothesis is that the central nervous system is a controlling influence for the body and can regulate peripheral inflammation and immune responses."

For many years, researchers have explored developing therapeutic targets by blocking the function of a signaling enzyme called p38 MAP kinase throughout the body. This enzyme regulates cytokines proteins released in response to stress that regulate inflammation in patients with arthritis. p38 is known to regulate production of a one particular cytokine called TNF??, and inhibitors of this cytokine are effective therapies for rheumatoid arth
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