Neurobiology of Resilience
A great new frontier is the discovery that the brain has its own immune/lymphatic system.
Resilience and immunity appear to have a reciprocal relationship. Four key findings are:
- Resilience attenuates the adverse effect of stressors on immunity.
- This relationship is bidirectional: immune processes also influence resilience.
- Changing the immunophenotype can alter resilience in one direction or the other.
- The relationship between resilience and immunity is modulated by the gut microbiota. One study concludes:
“Resilience is the process that allows individuals to adapt to adverse conditions and recover from them. This process is favored by individual qualities that have been amply studied in the field of stress such as personal control, positive affect, optimism, and social support. Biopsychosocial studies on the individual qualities that promote resilience show that these factors help protect against the deleterious influences of stressors on physiology in general and immunity in particular. The reverse is also true as there is evidence that immune processes influence resilience. Most of the data supporting this relationship comes from animal studies on individual differences in the ability to resist situations of chronic stress. These data build on the knowledge that has accumulated on the influence of immune factors on brain and behavior in both animal and human studies. In general, resilient individuals have a different immunophenotype from that of stress susceptible individuals.
It is possible to render susceptible individuals resilient and vice versa by changing their inflammatory phenotype. The adaptive immune phenotype also influences the ability to recover from inflammation-induced symptoms. The modulation of these bidirectional relationships between resilience and immunity by the gut microbiota opens the possibility to influence them by probiotics and prebiotics. However, more focused studies on the reciprocal relationship between resilience and immunity will be necessary before this can be put into practice.” (See attribution note below).
- Brain’s Immune System. A great new frontier is the discovery that the brain has its own immune/lymphatic system. It is fascinating to ask what role the brainstem plays in modulating the resilience of the brain’s own immune system and thereby the general immunity and resilience of the body?
Next: Mitochondrial Resilience