How early life experiences affect neuroimmunity

16th Oct 2020

Recently published in the British Neuroscience Association (BNA) journal, Brain and Neuroscience Advances, "Neuroimmunological effects of early life experiences" by Nichola M. Brydges and Jack Reddaway, reviewed the lasting effects of early life experiences on neuroimmune function.

The neuroimmune system

The immune system is famed for its role in fighting disease and infection. Less appreciated is the vital role the immune system plays in brain development and function, via the neuroimmune system.

Alongside genetics, environmental experiences throughout development (spanning in utero to adolescence) can alter the long-term function of the neuroimmune system, which is associated with changes in brain development and function.

Negative experiences impact neuroimmune function

Negative experiences such as maternal infection, psychological stress, poor diet, and childhood adversity negatively impact neuroimmune function and are associated with abnormal brain morphology and function.

This dysregulation might increase the risk of developing psychiatric illness later in life and could provide an effective target for preventing and treating mental illness.

Support for this comes from studies showing that positive experiences such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, secure caregiving, adequate nutrition, exercise and environmental enrichment improve immune function and promote normal brain development and function. In animal models, these positive experiences can even reverse the effects of negative experiences.

This review summarises the importance of the neuroimmune system in brain development and function and explores the effects of negative and positive environmental experiences on neuroimmune function. Males and females sometimes differ in how they respond to environmental experiences: we also briefly review this literature.

Click here to read the full article

About Brain and Neuroscience Advances  

Brain and Neuroscience Advances is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, which publishes high quality translational and clinical articles from all neuroscience disciplines; including molecular, cellular, systems, behavioural and cognitive investigations.

The journal welcomes submissions in basic, translational and/or clinical neuroscience. Research papers should present novel, empirical results that are expected to be of interest to a broad spectrum of neuroscientists working in the laboratory, field or clinic. 

Brain and Neuroscience Advances is now indexed in PubMed Central.

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