Main Article Content
The nervous system and the immune system communicate extensively with each other in order to maintain homeostasis and to regulate the immune response. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) communicates specifically with the immune system according to local interactions, including the “hardwiring” of sympathetic/parasympathetic (efferent) and sensory nerves (afferent) to lymphoid tissue and organs. To reveal this type of bidirectional neuroimmune interaction at the microscopic level, we used immunofluorescent staining of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) coupled with confocal microscopy/3D reconstruction to reveal the distribution of non-myelinating Schwann cells (NMSCs) and their interactions with immune cells inside mouse spleen. Our results demonstrate i) the presence of an extensive network of NMSC processes in all splenic compartments including the splenic nodules, periarteriolar lymphoid sheath (PALS), marginal zone, trabecula, and red pulp; ii) the close association of NMSC processes with blood vessels (including central artries and their branches, marginal sinuses, penicillar arterioles and splenic sinuses); iii) the close “synapse-like” interaction/association of NMSC processes with various subsets of dendritic cells (DCs; e.g., CD4+CD11c+ DCs, B220+CD11c+ DCs, and F4/80+ CD11c+ DCs), macrophages (F4/80+), and lymphocytes (B cells, CD4+ T helper cells). Our novel findings concerning the distribution of NMSCs and NMSC-leukocytes interactions inside mouse spleen should improve our understanding of the mechanisms through which the PNS affects cellular- and humoral-mediated immune responses in a variety of health conditions and infectious/non-infectious diseases.