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Link: Found: the dial in the brain that controls the immune system

Scientists have long known that the brain plays a part in the immune system — but how it does so has been a mystery. Now, scientists have identified cells in the brainstem that sense immune cues from the periphery of the body and act as master regulators of the body’s inflammatory response. The results, published on 1 May in Nature1, suggest that the brain maintains a delicate balance between the molecular signals that promote inflammation and those that dampen it — a finding that could lead to treatments for autoimmune diseases and other conditions caused by an excessive immune response. The discovery is akin to a black-swan event — unexpected but making perfect sense once revealed, says Ruslan Medzhitov, an immunologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Scientists have known that the brainstem has many functions, such as controlling basic processes such as breathing. However, he adds, the study “shows that there is whole layer of biology that we haven’t even anticipated”. #


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