We show in mice that through activation or inhibition of the dopaminergic neurons in the Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) in the brain we can alter the immune response. We can control the activity of distinct immune cell lineages, and in particular the abundance and activity of: Natural killer cells (NK) cells, CD8 T cells, CD4 T cells, B cells, and Dendritic cells (or a combination thereof).
Controlling the activity of the VTA in the brain can therefore be used to treat a variety of immune conditions, including but not limited to infections, cancer and autoimmune disorders (because of the immune populations involved). This approach can also be used to increase the efficiency of vaccines, immunotherapy and drugs designed to control an immune response.
The control of the VTA can be achieved by Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and its variants. It can also be achieved by pharmacological agents such as dopamine agonists or dopamine antagonists. Both strategies can be combined with available treatments to control immune activity, especially treatments that target NK cells, CD8 T cells, CD4 T cells, B cells and dendritic cells.
- Targeted activation of specific immune cell types (lineages)
Applications and Opportunities
- Controlling the immune response