Fulvio D`Acquisto and colleagues from Queen Mary University of London, UK recently showed that 8 days of massage-like therapy (hand- but not brush-stroked mice) resulted in modulation of murine immune system’s parameters through the sympathetic innervation and noradrenaline release.
Massage per se apparently had no effect on anxiety-like behaviors in mice, but the immunomodulatory effects were linked to a decreased sympathetic/noradrenergic innervation of lymphoid organs, and a reversal of glucocorticoids’ immunosuppressive effects on thymocytes.
The study supports the concept of an interactive network between the neuroendocrine axis and the immune system, and that sympathetic nerves that innervate lymphoid tissues represent “one of the major pathways by which the neuronal and immune system communicate”. It also substantiates previous research that massage releases more cells in the circulation, and that it decreases the release of norepinephrine/noradrenaline (J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1999, 20:31).
The authors suggest that massage-like therapies can have beneficial effects on the immune system by reducing stress mediators, and that massage may support the recovery of immune function during periods of immunosuppression.