Research Highlights | Published:

Neuroimmunology

Reward system boosts immunity

Nature volume 535, page 10 (07 July 2016) | Download Citation

Activating the reward system in the brains of mice directly boosts their immune systems, offering a physiological explanation for the placebo effect.

Shai Shen-Orr, Asya Rolls and their colleagues at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa activated neurons in a part of the mouse brain that processes rewarding activities such as eating and sex. The next day, they injected the mice with the bacterium Escherichia coli. The animals showed increases in both short-term and long-term immune responses to the pathogen, compared with mice in a control group. But these effects were lost when the researchers also inactivated the animals' sympathetic nervous systems, suggesting that this system helps to mediate interactions between the brain and the immune system.

About this article

Publication history

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/535010b

Authors

    Comments

    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing