Bite-size Science: Immune Cells use Neurotransmitter to Communicate

Researchers have suspected for a few years that neurotransmitters like dopamine play a role in how the immune system functions. But they didn’t know how cells in the immune system would actually used dopamine. A paper published on July 12 of this year shows for the first time that cells in the immune system send dopamine to other cells to trigger them into action. This is just like how neurons use dopamine in the brain! Check out the infographic for a summary of the discovery!






Papa, Ilenia, David Saliba, Maurilio Ponzoni, Sonia Bustamante, Pablo F. Canete, Paula Gonzalez-Figueroa, Hayley A. Mcnamara, Salvatore Valvo, Michele Grimbaldeston, Rebecca A. Sweet, Harpreet Vohra, Ian A. Cockburn, Michael Meyer-Hermann, Michael L. Dustin, Claudio Doglioni, and Carola G. Vinuesa. (2017). TFH-derived dopamine accelerates productive synapses in germinal centres. Nature.

Qi, Hai. (2017). Immunology: Nervous crosstalk to make antibodies. Nature.


Kayleen Schreiber

Kayleen is obsessed with the brain. After majoring in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, she went straight to a PhD program in neuroscience at the University of Iowa. She currently studies how our brains process speech. She measures electrical changes produced by the brain to understand how the gender of a person talking influences how we hear their speech. Outside the lab, she works to get others excited about science and occasionally plays the bassoon.