Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol
Mammalian immunity evolved by the process of natural selection that produced differential survival and reproduction advantages through combinations of hereditary traits underlying the response to pathogens. Primitive animals sense the presence of microbial pathogens through recognition of pathogen-derived molecules in their rudimentary immune and nervous systems. No molecular biological mechanism assigns primacy of pathogen sensing mechanisms to immune cells over neurons. Rather, in animals as diverse as Caenorhabditis elegans to mammals, neural reflexes are activated by the presence of pathogens and transduce neural mechanisms that control the development of immunity. A coming revolution in immunological thinking will require immunologists to incorporate neural circuits into understanding pathogen signal transduction, and the molecular mechanisms of learning, that culminate in immunity.
School of Medicine