NeuroImmune Transmitters: GABA

When considering neurotransmitters having an effect on immune function, GABA is not one that commonly comes to mind.  Yet, recent research has determined that GABA, the most calming neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, does have an effect on immune function.

Dendritic cells, along with macrophages and T cells, increase GABA production and secretion when activated.

Dendritic cells, along with macrophages and T cells, increase GABA production and secretion when activated.

A recent article, published by Bhat and colleagues in 2010, found that when dendritic cells, macrophages, and T cells are activated, there is an increase in the production and secretion of GABA by these cells.  GABA can inhibit the production of IL-1β and IL-6 from antigen presenting cells, and GABAergic agents also inhibit the production of IL-17 and IFN-γ, both of which are inflammatory cytokines.  GABA plays a role in immune system modulation to affect cytokine secretion, cell proliferation, phagocytic activity, and chemotaxis.  It also appears that GABA levels will increase during an inflammatory response.

When GABA is elevated on a neurotransmitter report, don’t forget to consider the possibility of an inflammatory response.  It’s possible that GABA is elevated to modulate immune system activity and additional support for GABA may still be warranted in some cases.

Reference
Bhat, R., et al. (2010). Inhibitory role for GABA in autoimmune inflammation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(6): 2580-5.
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