After a global view of immunological development and biology, 19 chapters extensively present the state of knowledge about the influence upon the immune response exerted by peptide hormones (growth hormone, insulin-like growth factors, prolactin and somatostatin) and steroids (glucocorticoids and sex steroids), also including neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, natriuretic peptides and vitamin D.
Two chapters detail the regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis by leptin and cytokines, in particular pro-inflammatory cytokines. Programming of dendritic cell function by the peripheral nervous system, as well as the role of neuroendocrine host factors in determining susceptibility and resistance to autoimmune/inflammatory diseases is extensively described in two separate contributions.
Finally, one chapter explains why the emergence of the thymus together with recombinase-dependent adaptive immunity some 300-400 million years ago was important to guarantee a further ‘pacific’ co-evolution of the immune and neuroendocrine systems.
The second part of the book (pp. 417-785) illustrates the clinical importance of immunoendocrinology for the understanding and treatment of the major autoimmune endocrine diseases such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis, Addison’s disease and autoimmune polyglandular syndromes. The implications in infectious, allergic, inflammatory diseases as well as in the natural process of senescence are highlighted in several chapters included in this clinical part.
Recent progress in the immunotherapy of neuroendocrine tumors is also described, as well as the mechanisms of cytokine-induced sickness behavior. As stated in the preface of the book ‘the time for integrative science and medicine has arrived and is here to stay. This volume is only a first glimpse of what is coming!’
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