Gut instinct has always
been held in high regard, closer to the truth is the gut brain connection that
has found to influence immunity. Researchers from Duke University have found
that inflammation in the gut can be controlled by altering the dopamine
signaling of the nematode C. elegans'
‘The nervous system could soon be used to improve the immune system.’
The study was designed
to understand the impact of drugs on immunity that were originally meant for
the nervous system. The paper published in the Journal Current Biology
provides proof that it could be possible.
of molecular genetics and microbiology, Dr Alejandro Aballay from Duke
University said "We are talking about an existing set of drugs and drug targets
that could open up the spectrum of potential therapeutic applications by
targeting pathways that fine-tune the inflammatory response,"
Potential to Treat
Certain Chronic Diseases
Talking about the idea of targeting the immune system, he said "It is a big leap from worms to
humans, but the idea of targeting the nervous system to control the immune system could potentially be used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
autoimmune disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn's disease
The gut and brain
connection are involved in a number of significant disorders which can
potentially be treated.
Study that Lead to the
The researchers studied the effect of various chemicals on the immune system of C. elegans
to protect it from bacterial infections. They found 45 chemicals that were found to activate an immune pathway and almost half of these chemicals worked on the nervous system. A few of them blocked dopamine activity
The Effect of Dopamine
and Dopamine Signaling Pathways on Immunity
Xiou Cao, a graduate
student studied the effect of chlorpromazine on the worm as well as on animals.
Chlorpromazine is used against schizophrenia and for manic depression in
- The worms showed
increased immunity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa when compared to worms
that did not receive the drug.
- In animals, the
drug increased susceptibility.
This led the researchers
to conclude that acts by stopping the inflammatory process.
Dr Aballay states
"Worms have evolved mechanisms to deal with colonizing bacteria. That is
true for us as well. Humans have trillions of microorganisms in our guts, and
we have to be careful when activating antimicrobial defenses so that we mainly
target potentially harmful microbes, without damaging our good bacteria -- or
even our own cells -- in the process."The nervous system appears to be the
perfect system for integrating all these different physiological cues to keep
the amount of damage in check,"
The study provides an
insight into the effect of drugs used for disorders that affect the brain on
the immunity of the individual. It offers potential for improving immunity
using these drugs.
inhibition of dopaminergic signaling enhances immunity in a cell non-autonomous manner," Xiou Cao and Alejandro Aballay. Current Biology, Aug. 12, 2016 2016.