Nervous and immune system interact through many different messenger substances such as neurotransmitters, cytokines or neuropeptides. For instance, neuropeptides are capable of affecting the metabolism of cells belonging to the immune system. Conversely, cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-α and IFN-γ, contribute to the receptor resistance of neuropeptides, reduce the availibility of amino acids which are needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters or show neurotoxic effects. Other cytokines like granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) may be highly attractive candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions. Cytokines are decisively involved in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia or anorexia nervosa as well as in neurological, respectively neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsons or Alzheimers. This connection between the immune system and the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders leads to the concept that immunomodulatory drugs which are already in use for various diseases related to the immune system may also be efficient in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This article is supposed to give an overview over the current concepts and possibilities since hopefully these hypotheses lead to new therapeutical strategies for psychiatric patients in the future.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, narcolepsy, depression, dementia, anorexia nervosa, TNF-α, IFN-α, IFN-γ, G-CSF
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