It's a fascinating discovery that has huge implications for autism and schizophrenia.
Could our immune system have a way bigger impact on our lives than we thought? It appears so, based on a new study published in the journal Nature.
Scientists found that the immune system actually has a huge impact on social behavior, which could have big implications for how we diagnose and treat neurological disorders like autism or schizophrenia, according to statements from the University of Virginia and University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Researchers developed a novel systems-biology approach to better understand how brain function and immune signalling communicate with each other, and determine that a cytokene that promotes social brain functions had a surprising role. Scientists have previously thought that the immune system and the brain were largely isolated from each other, but in fact they appear to closely interact, according to the statements.
“The brain and the adaptive immune system were thought to be isolated from each other, and any immune activity in the brain was perceived as sign of a pathology. And now, not only are we showing that they are closely interacting, but some of our behavior traits might have evolved because of our immune response to pathogens,” explained Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, chairman of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience. “It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system.”
“Immune molecules are actually defining how the brain is functioning. So, what is the overall impact of the immune system on our brain development and function?” Kipnis continued. “I think the philosophical aspects of this work are very interesting, but it also has potentially very important clinical implications.”