Immune Modulators and Chemical Messengers Summary
Cytokines or immune modulators are the chemical messengers of immune cells. Cytokines are composed of hormone-like lymphokines, which are soluble proteins released by activated T-cells, and monokines that are released by macrophages. To name some of the cytokines:
attract macrophages, causing them to wander to sensitized T-cells.
stop the migration of macrophages.
enhance and speed up the ability of the macrophages to destroy antigens by engulfing and digesting (phagocytosis) the antigens.
is a strong poison that directly kills any cell it attacks. (1)
The immune-modulators communicate and orchestrate the type of immune support that is necessary. Macrophages and T-cells in within the immune system release cytokines, which influence other immune cells. (2) The immune modulators have the ability to also to directly relay messages to non-immune cells in the brain through lymphokines. For example activated lymphocytes, containing lymphokines prompted the liberation of CRF (corticotrophin releasing factor) in the hypothalamus and the ensuing rise of blood cortisol levels. (3) This chemical discourse amidst the brain and the immune system and the following ramifications on stress hormones, is one passage by which conditioning and stress affect immunity. (4)
A Summary of Chemical Messenger
Neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, hormones, and immune modulators have been reported to modulate immune-cell behavior. Here is an instance;
Macrophages become inert when we are depressed, elevated levels of endorphins suppress NK-cell activity, and hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), that are released in large quantities when we are stressed depress T-cell activity.(5)
The CNS (central nervous system), the PNS (peripheral nervous system), and the immune system share certain characteristics which are the ability to communicate at a distance, the ability to develop memory, and the ability to use a good deal of the same messengers (6) which fundamentally enables them to communicate with each other.
Neurotransmitters originating in the brain influence immune reaction. I.e. NEPI (nor-adrenaline) is set free by ANS neurons. Receptors for NEPI and other neurotransmitters have been identified on immune cells, more precisely, lymphocytes.
Bi-directional connection allows the brain to stay afloat of immune function, and it also enables the immune system to affect the brain, specifically, the emotions. This two way communication seems to depend solely on lymphokines and hormones released by immune cells.
Immune cells have the ability to decipher chemical messages from other areas of the body such as the endocrine system, the nervous system because they have receptor sites that allow hormones, neurotransmitters, and neuropeptides to jetty on their membranes. (6) In addition, immune cells can directly synthesize neuropeptides and hormones, allowing immune cells to communicate in turn. Immune cells most certainly behave as they were a second pituitary gland. The above reasons mention why the immune system is sometimes referred to as the "floating brain."
The final paragraph, directly quoted from Lyn Freeman's book (7) probably best describes how our chemical messengers influence Mind- body communication:
Our combined chemical messengers are similar to the codes that make up the body's software program. As functional changes occur in these chemicals, we temporarily rewrite our software, altering the body's functioning in subtle, but meaningful, ways. This informational substance-driven dialog between the brain and the systems of the body (e.g. nervous, endocrine, immune) is the circuitry by which our interpretation of life events can influence our immunity and physiologic condition.
My next post will produce 11 points which will lay final proof that Mind-Body communication exists. Then we will take a look at some modalities and studies demonstrating the "technical jargon" I had you endure for the last ten posts in practice, and how these findings might benefit your overall well being. We will look at music therapy, laughter, expressing traumatic events through the written word or discussion, and personality style. Until then.
1. Thibodeau G., Patton K. Anatomy and Physiology. Mosby, St. Louis, Missouri (1998)
2. Krippner S. Psychoneuroimmunology. In Raymond J., Corsini N. Editors: Encyclopedia of psychology. ed 2. New York. New York. (1994) Wiley
3. Besedovsky H. et al. Lymphoid Cells Produce an Immunoregulatory Glucocorticoid Increasing Factor (GIF) Acting Through the Pituitary Gland. Clin Exp Immunol (1985) 59:622
3. Blalock J. Production and Action of Lymphocyte-Derived Neuroendocrine Peptide Hormones- summary. Prog Immunol. (1986) 6:27
4. O'Grady M., Hall N. Long Term Effects of Neuroendocrineimmune Interactions During Early Development. In Ader R., Felten D., Cohen N. Editors: Psychoneuroimmunology. New York. (1991) Academic Press
5. Felten S., Felten D. Innervation of Lymphoid Tissues. In Ader R., Felten D., Cohen N. Editors: Psychoneuroimmunology. New York. (1991) Academic Press
6. Roszman., Carlson. Neurotransmitters and Molecular Signaling in the Immune System. In Ader R., Felten D., Cohen N. Editors: Psychoneuroimmunology. New York. (1991) Academic Press
7. Freeman L. Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Research Based Approach. Mosby's. St. Louis Missouri. (2004)p.20