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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 705232, 23 pages
Review Article

Neuroendocrine Immunoregulation in Multiple Sclerosis

Laboratory of Experimental Hematology, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute (Vaxinfectio), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp University Hospital (UZA), 2650 Edegem, Belgium

Received 26 July 2013; Revised 29 September 2013; Accepted 30 September 2013

Academic Editor: Lenin Pavón

Copyright © 2013 Nathalie Deckx et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Currently, it is generally accepted that multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex multifactorial disease involving genetic and environmental factors affecting the autoreactive immune responses that lead to damage of myelin. In this respect, intrinsic or extrinsic factors such as emotional, psychological, traumatic, or inflammatory stress as well as a variety of other lifestyle interventions can influence the neuroendocrine system. On its turn, it has been demonstrated that the neuroendocrine system has immunomodulatory potential. Moreover, the neuroendocrine and immune systems communicate bidirectionally via shared receptors and shared messenger molecules, variously called hormones, neurotransmitters, or cytokines. Discrepancies at any level can therefore lead to changes in susceptibility and to severity of several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Here we provide an overview of the complex system of crosstalk between the neuroendocrine and immune system as well as reported dysfunctions involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity, including MS. Finally, possible strategies to intervene with the neuroendocrine-immune system for MS patient management will be discussed. Ultimately, a better understanding of the interactions between the neuroendocrine system and the immune system can open up new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of MS as well as other autoimmune diseases.