Pharmacological and Electroceutical Targeting of the Cholinergic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway in Autoimmune Diseases

Author: Moncef Zouali1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan.
Conference/Journal: Pharmaceuticals (Basel)
Date published: 2023 Jul 31
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Issue ID: 8 , Pages: 1089 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/ph16081089. , Word Count: 219

Continuous dialogue between the immune system and the brain plays a key homeostatic role in various immune responses to environmental cues. Several functions are under the control of the vagus nerve-based inflammatory reflex, a physiological mechanism through which nerve signals regulate immune functions. In the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, the vagus nerve, its pivotal neurotransmitter acetylcholine, together with the corresponding receptors play a key role in modulating the immune response of mammals. Through communications of peripheral nerves with immune cells, it modulates proliferation and differentiation activities of various immune cell subsets. As a result, this pathway represents a potential target for treating autoimmune diseases characterized by overt inflammation and a decrease in vagal tone. Consistently, converging observations made in both animal models and clinical trials revealed that targeting the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway using pharmacologic approaches can provide beneficial effects. In parallel, bioelectronic medicine has recently emerged as an alternative approach to managing systemic inflammation. In several studies, nerve electrostimulation was reported to be clinically relevant in reducing chronic inflammation in autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. In the future, these new approaches could represent a major therapeutic strategy for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: B lymphocytes; acetylcholine; arthritis; diabetes; electroceutical therapy; inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease; lupus; neurotransmitters; noradrenaline; postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome; vagus nerve.

PMID: 37631004 PMCID: PMC10459025 DOI: 10.3390/ph16081089