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1999 | 59 | 1 | 45-53

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Sleep as a behavioral model of neuro-immune interactions


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The central nervous system, by a variety of mechanisms engages in constant surveillance of the peripheral immune system. Alterations in the status of the peripheral immune system induced by an invading pathogen for example, are quickly detected by the central nervous system, which then responds by altering physiological processes and behavior in an attempt to support the immune system in its efforts to eliminate the pathogen. Sleep is one of several behaviors that are dramatically altered in response to infection. Immune-active substances such as the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor, either directly or indirectly via interactions with neurotransmitters or neurohormones are involved in the regulation of sleep. Because these cytokines increase during infection, they are likely candidates for mediating the profound alterations in sleep that occur during infection. Since regulation of behavior is the function of the central nervous system, infection-induced alterations in behavior provide a unique model for the study of neuro-immune interactions.





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M. R. Opp, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0431, USA, Email: mark.opp@utmb.edu


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