Dopamine mediates vagal modulation of the immune system by electroacupuncture : Nature Medicine : Nature Publishing Group

Previous anti-inflammatory strategies against sepsis, a leading cause of
death in hospitals, had limited efficacy in clinical trials, in part
because they targeted single cytokines and the experimental models
failed to mimic clinical settings.
Neuronal networks represent physiological mechanisms, selected by
evolution to control inflammation, that can be exploited for the
treatment of inflammatory and infectious disorders.
Here, we report that sciatic nerve activation with electroacupuncture
controls systemic inflammation and rescues mice from polymicrobial
peritonitis. Electroacupuncture at the sciatic nerve controls systemic
inflammation by inducing vagal activation of aromatic L-amino
acid decarboxylase, leading to the production of dopamine in the
adrenal medulla. Experimental models with adrenolectomized mice mimic
clinical adrenal insufficiency,
increase the susceptibility to sepsis and prevent the anti-inflammatory
effects of electroacupuncture. Dopamine inhibits cytokine production
via dopamine type 1 (D1) receptors. D1 receptor agonists suppress
systemic inflammation and rescue mice with adrenal insufficiency from
polymicrobial peritonitis. Our results suggest a new anti-inflammatory
mechanism mediated by the sciatic and vagus nerves that modulates the
production of catecholamines in the adrenal glands. From a
pharmacological perspective, the effects of selective dopamine agonists
mimic the anti-inflammatory effects of electroacupuncture and can
provide therapeutic advantages to control inflammation in infectious and
inflammatory disorders.

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