Although the function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in mediating the flight-or-fight response was recognized decades ago, the crucial role of peripheral innervation in regulating cell behavior and response to the microenvironment has only recently emerged. In the hematopoietic system, the ANS regulates stem cell niche homeostasis and regeneration and fine-tunes the inflammatory response. Additionally, emerging data suggest that cancer cells take advantage of innervating neural circuitry to promote their progression. These new discoveries outline the need to redesign therapeutic strategies to target this underappreciated stromal constituent. Here, we review the importance of neural signaling in hematopoietic homeostasis, inflammation, and cancer.
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