Macrophages are key players in pain and analgesia

Macrophages are found in all tissues and are critical to injury and repair. Like neurons, macrophages are plastic and acquire different phenotypes based on the external environment. There are two types of macrophages, M1 which secrete inflammatory cytokines, and M2 which secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines activate … [Read more...]

Cytokines and all the ills that flesh is heir to

Cytokines are engaged in a perpetual identity crisis of sorts. Their role in healing and restoration of tissue integrity and homeostasis is invaluable. Yet, simultaneously, their involvement in multiple medical conditions points to their darker nature.  Given that inflammation is a common factor in many diseases, cytokines are of considerable … [Read more...]

TNF-a: the scroundrel that can smile and smile

Glial cells keep appearing everywhere I look. No, I have not been shrunken by some Rick Moranis-like character and made to wander around the body (a reference to “Honey, I shrunk the kids”)! But, I have been wandering around the pages of journals, ever-so-slowly trying to get a grasp of how the nervous and immune systems talk to each-other. What … [Read more...]

Nails in the coffin

BIM invited me to add my “two pennyworth” (two cents worth for the rest of you!) following Lorimer’s series of excellent blogs. Despite his protestation there is no going back……., the end of neurocentricity is nigh! No one interested in the subjects that Lorimer focused on in his blogs, learning, memory and neuroplasticity (the clue is in the … [Read more...]

Neuroimmunology for idiots. Part 3: Immune system in neuroplasticity

In this, the oddly named 4th part of this little series, I am trying to get my head around the role of cytokines in facilitating long term potentiation and nurturing neuroplasticity. The key work in this field seems to be this[1] These guys were the first to show that an inflammatory-like process, the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1, … [Read more...]

Neuroimmunology for idiots. Part 2: Immune system in learning & memory – inflammatory cytokines.

The last post discussed the role of T cells and T cell-derived IL-4, an anti-inflammatory cytokine. This post will focus on other inflammatory cytokines, in particular IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-α.  First, IL-1. Well the story is broadly pretty similar to that of T cell-derived IL-4: Take a normal mouse out of its home, put it in a different home, let’s … [Read more...]

Neuroimmunology for dummies. Part 1: Immune system in learning and memory – T cells.

A common way to investigate what role particular biological markers play is to breed (in the loosest sense of the word - ie genetically engineer) an animal that doesn’t have those biomarkers. Mice are the usual suckers.  Mice can be ‘bred’ to have no T cells (T cells are otherwise known as T lymphocytes, white blood cells that are produced … [Read more...]

Mutterings of a neurocentric. Or, neuroimmunology for dummies

I was going to call this post ‘Immune effects on thinking, memory, neuroplasticity and neurogenesis’ but I thought it sounded a bit high-brow.  In fact, for the first time in my brief bloglife I have found myself stuck on an opening, but I think I might know why. It is 5.20am, I rode my bike 50km yesterday and this morning I have a few more creaks … [Read more...]