Neuroendocrine-immune (NEI) circuitry from neuron-glial interactions to function: Focus on gender and HPA-HPG interactions on early programming of the NEI system

M. C. Morale, F. Gallo, C. Tirolo, N. Testa, S. Caniglia, N. Marletta, V. Spina-Purrello, R. Avola, F. Caucci, P. Tomasi, G. Delitala, N. Barden, B. Marchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bidirectional communication between the neuroendocrine and immune systems during ontogeny plays a pivotal role in programming the development of neuroendocrine and immune responses in adult life. Signals generated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (i.e. luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, LHRH, and sex steroids), and by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (glucocorticoids (GC)), are major players coordinating the development of immune system function. Conversely, products generated by immune system activation exert a powerful and long-lasting regulation on neuroendocrine axes activity. The neuroendocrine-immune system is very sensitive to preperinatal experiences, including hormonal manipulations and immune challenges, which may influence the future predisposition to several disease entities. We review our work on the ongoing mutual regulation of neuroendocrine and immune cell activities, both at a cellular and molecular level. In the central nervous system, one chief compartment is represented by the astroglial cell and its mediators. Hence, neuron-glial signalling cascades dictate major changes in response to hormonal manipulations and pro-inflammatory triggers. The interplay between LHRH, sex steroids, GC and pro-inflammatory mediators in some physiological and pathological states, together with the potential clinical implications of these findings, are summarized. The overall study highlights the plasticity of this intersystem cross-talk for pharmacological targeting with drugs acting at the neuroendocrine-immune interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-417
Number of pages18
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Corticotropin releasing factor
  • Gender
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)
  • Neuron-glial interactions
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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