Tag Archives: plasticity

Immune System and Nervous System

Dr. West-Eberhard in the chapter “Principles of Development and Evolution” in her book “Developmental Plasticity and Evolution” comments that learned behavior and the immune system are both examples of traits that are hyperplastic. This makes sense as they both need to adjust rapidly to the needs of an animal during it’s lifespan. And that longer lived animals have more need for learned behavior. We think of the immune system and the nervous system as two different things as they are separated by the blood-brain barrier. We also think of the nervous system as mainly neurons and the individual neuron as a basic unit. We are still trying to understand the modular hierarchy of groups of neurons. But neurons aren’t the only cells in the nervous system, the various glia cells make up a large percent in relation to neurons in different animals. One glial cell to every 4 neurons in a fly brain to nearly one-to-one in the human brain. There are many different type of glial cells, some maintain the brain-blood barrier, some sheath axons, some look and seem to act like neurons, some maintain synapses while others, the microglia, act as immune elements within the nervous system, trimming dendrites, cleaning dead neurons killed by other glial cells. And protecting new neurons. Recently it has been found that microglial cells present antigens to t cells, thus they form a direct connection between the immune system and the nervous system. It has been proposed that another form of modularity occurs with the neuron, it’s supporting glia and the blood/immune system as a unit. A healthy body means a healthy brain also.

  1. Immune cells contribute to the maintenance of neurogenisis and spatial learning abilities in adulthood
    Yaniv Ziv, Noga Ron, Oleg Butovsky, Gennady Landa, Einav Sudai, Nadav Greenberg, Hagit Cohen, Jaoathan Kipnis, Michal Schwartz
    Nature neuroscience, Vol 9, #2, 2006
  2. Role of glia in synapse development
    Frank W Pfrieger
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2002, 12:486–490
  3. The Mystery and Magic of Glia: A Perspective on Their Roles in Health and Disease
    Ben A Barres
    DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.10.013