Neuroendocrine-immune interactions in fish: A role for interleukin-1

Marc Y. Engelsma, Mark O. Huising, Willem B. Van Muiswinkel, Gert Flik, Jimmy Kwang, Huub F.J. Savelkoul, B. M.Lidy Verburg-Van Kemenade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Bi-directional communication between the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis and the sympathetic nervous system with the immune system is crucial to ensure homeostasis. Shared use of ligands and especially receptors forms a key component of this bi-directional interaction. Glucocorticoids (GC), the major end products of the HPA-axis differentially modulate immune function. Cytokines, especially interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), ensure immune signalling to the neuroendocrine system. In addition, hormones from leukocyte origin such as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and β-endorphin, as well as centrally synthesised and secreted cytokines, contribute to the communication network. In teleost fish cortisol is the major product of the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal (HPI)-axis which is the teleost equivalent of the HPA-axis. Moderate and substantial increases in cortisol during stressful circumstances negatively affect B-lymphocytes, whereas rescue of neutrophilic granulocytes may support innate immunity. Recent elucidation of lower vertebrate cytokine sequences has facilitated research into neuroendocrine-immune interactions in teleosts and the first evidence for a significant function of interleukin-1 in the bi-directional communication is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-479
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary immunology and immunopathology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • Cytokines
  • Fish
  • Glucocorticoids
  • HPA
  • HPI
  • Interleukin-1
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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