Research in Dr. Bellinger's laboratory investigates bidirectional interactions between the nervous system and the immune system, particularly focused on how the sympathetic nervous system modulates immune function in aging, cancer, and autoimmunity. Previous studies have demonstrated differences in the normal aging of sympathetic innervation of secondary immune organs in short- vs. long-lived strains of rats. We are currently investigating the mechanisms responsible for altered sympathetic neurotransmission in immune organs with age and its consequences on immune function. Research in this laboratory induces adjuvant arthritis in Lewis rats as a model to investigate sympathetic-immune interactions that contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Immune-to-brain signaling over disease progression is also under study in this animal model. Understanding mechanisms through which the sympathetic nervous system influences the growth and metastases of prostrate cancer in an aged murine prostate cancer model is also an area of research interest in this laboratory.