Immunity and the carotid body: implications for metabolic diseases

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Neuro-immune communication has gained enormous interest in recent years due to increasing knowledge of the way in which the brain coordinates functional alterations in inflammatory and autoimmune responses, and the mechanisms of neuron-immune cell interactions in the context of metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In this review, we will explain how this relationship between the nervous and immune system impacts the pro- and anti-inflammatory pathways with specific reference to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland axis and the vagal reflex and will explore the possible involvement of the carotid body (CB) in the neural control of inflammation. We will also highlight the mechanisms of vagal anti-inflammatory reflex control of immunity and metabolism, and the consequences of functional disarrangement of this reflex in settlement and development of metabolic diseases, with special attention to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, the role of CB in the interplay between metabolism and immune responses will be discussed, with specific reference to the different stimuli that promote CB activation and the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic in this context. In doing so, we clarify the multivarious neuronal reflexes that coordinate tissue-specific responses (gut, pancreas, adipose tissue and liver) critical to metabolic control, and metabolic disease settlement and development. In the final section, we will summarize how electrical modulation of the carotid sinus nerve may be utilized to adjust these reflex responses and thus control inflammation and metabolic diseases, envisioning new therapeutics horizons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24
JournalBioelectronic medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2020


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