The Neuroimmunology research group investigates the interaction between the nervous and immune systems. The focus is on the effect of neurotransmitters on cells outside the nervous system.

Head of department
Prof. Dr. Silvia Capellino
Ardeystr. 67
44139 Dortmund

Clinical evidence suggests a direct interplay between the nervous system and the immune system. It is for example well known that many occupational factors such as stress and sleep disturbances increase the incidence of infectious diseases. This direct impact of the nervous system on our body is possible because immune cells and other peripheral cells express neurotransmitters’ receptors.

Although it is described that the nervous system directly influences our immune response, we still do not know how this exactly works. Therefore, the Neuroimmunology group works in cooperation with other groups within IfADo as well as with external cooperation partners, to study the effects of neurotransmitters on the immune response and on peripheral cell functions with an interdisciplinary approach.

The aim is to find out how exactly the nervous system acts on the immune system and on other organs and how we can modulate these pathways to restore health. This knowledge will also allow to discover possible side effects of neuromodulating drugs on the immune response.

Furthermore, it was already described that immune cells can produce neurotransmitters by themselves in the healthy body as well as during some autoimmune diseases. These new findings opened a new field of research in immunology. We are currently better characterizing the neuronal-like mechanisms used by immune cells in healthy conditions compared to chronic inflammations. Final goal is to find out how to use the neuronal-like mechanisms to modulate immune function and reduce inflammation in autoimmune diseases, thus increasing the life quality and work ability of subjects affected by such chronic pathologies.

Current projects

  • Sex-differences in neurotransmitter-immune cell interaction.
  • Role of dopamine on sex-specific immune response in axSpA and other rheumatic diseases.
  • Effects of neurotransmitters on bone remodeling.
  • Effects of neuromodulating drugs in the immune response.
  • Neuro-immune mechanisms during ageing