In PLOS Biology this week, read about new research into the way our immune and nervous systems interact with each other in response to disease. Also find out more in the accompanying synopsis.
We know that the nervous and immune systems interact constantly in complex ways, but there is much we don’t know about the mechanisms of such signalling. In the context of inflammation, for example, the influence of the immune system on the brain is highly relevant for a number of diseases. In new research published this week, Kirsten Ridder, Stefan Momma and colleagues used a genetic tracing system in mice to show that white blood cells can transfer functional RNA directly to neurons in the brain using extracellular vesicles. Interestingly the activity of this pathway was very low in healthy individuals, but jumped by several orders of magnitude when an inflammatory response was triggered. The study reveals a previously unknown medium of information exchange between the immune and nervous system, and the authors predict a complex regulation of gene expression in neural cells in response to peripheral inflammation. Read more in the accompanying synopsis.