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35. The Immune System and the Nervous System

The Immune System and the Nervous System


Biological links between the immune system and the central nervous system exist at several levels.

Hormones and other chemicals such as neuropeptides, which convey messages among nerve cells, have been found also to "speak" to cells of the immune system--and some immune cells even manufacture typical neuropeptides. In addition, networks of nerve fibers have been found to connect directly to the lymphoid organs.

The picture that is emerging is of closely interlocked systems facilitating a two-way flow of information. Immune cells, it has been suggested, may function in a sensory capacity, detecting the arrival of foreign invaders and relaying chemical signals to alert the brain. The brain, for its part, may send signals that guide the traffic of cells through the lymphoid organs.