Insular cortex neurons encode and retrieve specific immune responses

Tamar Koren, Re'ee Yifa, Mariam Amer, Maria Krot, Nadia Boshnak, Tamar L. Ben-Shaanan, Hilla Azulay-Debby, Itay Zalayat, Eden Avishai, Haitham Hajjo, Maya Schiller, Hedva Haykin, Ben Korin, Dorit Farfara, Fahed Hakim, Oren Kobiler, Kobi Rosenblum, Asya Rolls*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing evidence indicates that the brain regulates peripheral immunity, yet whether and how the brain represents the state of the immune system remains unclear. Here, we show that the brain's insular cortex (InsCtx) stores immune-related information. Using activity-dependent cell labeling in mice (FosTRAP), we captured neuronal ensembles in the InsCtx that were active under two different inflammatory conditions (dextran sulfate sodium [DSS]-induced colitis and zymosan-induced peritonitis). Chemogenetic reactivation of these neuronal ensembles was sufficient to broadly retrieve the inflammatory state under which these neurons were captured. Thus, we show that the brain can store and retrieve specific immune responses, extending the classical concept of immunological memory to neuronal representations of inflammatory information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5902-5915.e17
Issue number24
StatePublished - 24 Nov 2021


FundersFunder number
Prince Center for Neurodegenerative Disorders
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Wellcome Trust
European Research Council


    • engram
    • inflammation
    • insular cortex
    • memory
    • neurons
    • psychosomatic


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