Acetylcholine-synthesizing T cells relay neural signals in a vagus nerve circuit

Mauricio Rosas-Ballina, Peder S. Olofsson, Mahendar Ochani, Sergio I. Valdés-Ferrer, Yaakov A. Levine, Colin Reardon, Michael W. Tusche, Valentin A. Pavlov, Ulf Andersson, Sangeeta Chavan, Tak W. Mak, Kevin J. Tracey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

793 Scopus citations


Neural circuits regulate cytokine production to prevent potentially damaging inflammation. A prototypical vagus nerve circuit, the inflammatory reflex, inhibits tumor necrosis factor-α production in spleen by a mechanism requiring acetylcholine signaling through the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expressed on cytokine-producing macrophages. Nerve fibers in spleen lack the enzymatic machinery necessary for acetylcholine production; therefore, how does this neural circuit terminate in cholinergic signaling? We identified an acetylcholine-producing, memory phenotype T cell population in mice that is integral to the inflammatory reflex. These acetylcholine-producing T cells are required for inhibition of cytokine production by vagus nerve stimulation. Thus, action potentials originating in the vagus nerve regulate T cells, which in turn produce the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, required to control innate immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-101
Number of pages4
Issue number6052
StatePublished - Oct 7 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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