Neuropeptides in the skin: Interactions between the neuroendocrine and the skin immune systems

T. Scholzen, C. A. Armstrong, N. W. Bunnett, T. A. Luger, J. C. Olerud, J. E. Ansel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The interaction between components of the nervous system and multiple target cells in the cutaneous immune system has been receiving increasing attention. It has been observed that certain skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis have a neurogenic component. Neuropeptides released by sensory nerves that innervate the skin and often contact epidermal and dermal cells can directly modulate functions of keratinocytes, Langerhans cells (LC), mast cells, dermal microvascular endothelial cells and infiltrating immune cells. Among these neuropeptides the tachykinins substance P (SP) and neurokinin A (NKA), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and somatostatin (SOM) have been reported to effectively modulate skin and immune cell functions such as cell proliferation, cytokine production or antigen presentation under physiological or pathophysiological conditions. Expression and regulation of their corresponding receptors that are expressed on a variety of skin cells as well as the presence of neuropeptide-specific peptidases such as neutral endopeptidase (NEP) or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) determine the final biological response mediated by these peptides on the target cell or tissue. Likewise, skin cells like keratinocytes or fibroblasts are a source for neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor that are required not only for survival and regeneration of sensory neurons but also to control responsiveness of these neurons to external stimuli. Therefore, neuropeptides, neuropeptide receptors, neuropeptide-degrading enzymes and neurotrophins participate in a complex, interdependent network of mediators that modulate skin inflammation, wound healing and the skin immune system. This review will focus on recent studies demonstrating the role of tachykinins, CGRP, SOM and VIP and their receptors and neuropeptide-degrading enzymes in mediating neurogenic inflammation in the skin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Calcitonin-gene-related peptide
  • Neuropeptides
  • Sensory nerves
  • Skin immune system
  • Substance P

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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