0026. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans
© Kox et al; licensee Springer. 2014
Published: 26 September 2014
Excessive or persistent pro-inflammatory cytokine production plays a central role in a variety of inflammatory conditions. Acute activation of the sympathetic nervous system attenuates innate immunity. However, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system are regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced.
To evaluate the effects of a training program on the autonomic nervous system and innate immune response.
We performed a parallel randomized controlled study in healthy male volunteers. Subjects were randomized to receive either a 10-day training program involving meditation (third eye meditation), breathing techniques (i.a., cyclic hyperventilation followed by breath retention), and exposure to cold (i.a., immersions in ice cold water), or no training. Subjects in both groups (n=12 per group) underwent experimental human endotoxemia (intravenous administration of 2 ng/kg E. Coli lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) during which the trained individuals practiced the learned techniques.
Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system results in epinephrine release and subsequent suppression of the innate immune response in humans in vivo. These results could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation.
This study was supported by a Serendipity Grant from Reumafonds (http://www.reumafonds.nl).
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