Thursday, April 6, 2017

Good News & Bad News

A variety of conditions including surgery, cancer chemotherapy, peripheral nerve damage, and heart attack can lead to poor memory, depression, fatigue, and exaggerated responses to pain. A common feature of these conditions is that they induce inflammatory responses in the body, which lead to an impact on the brain and central nervous system or CNS. Until recently the CNS and peripheral immune system were thought to operate independently. Indeed, the term “immune system” is not generally included in the indexes of current major texts in neuroscience nor the terms “CNS” and “brain” included in the indexes of major texts in immunology. This is changing, however, due to new research that identified a physical connection between the immune system and the brain. Immune vessels go through the three meningeal coverings of the brain. There is also increased understanding of how immune-related events in the peripheral nervous system can influence CNS processes, thereby altering cognition, mood, and behavior. Moreover, these advances are suggesting that inflammation may have important long term implications for the brain. Indeed, the brain and immune system appear to have their hands shoved so deeply in each other’s pockets that it’s hard to tell which is which. Take good care of your brain and the immune system will likely benefit and vice versa.

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