Autonomic balance, a function generally under host control, is subject to modulation by other signalers. In some cases, modulation of host autonomic function through behavioral and physical stressors exerted by another individual may have negative consequences for the stress recipient by inducing sympathetic bias. Modulation of autonomic function may sometimes benefit one party at the expense of another. Tumors and HIV are examples of illegitimate signalers who may induce host sympathetic bias to promote their own growth and evade host immune surveillance. Paraneoplastic and paraviral syndromes such as hypertrophic osteoarthopathy, QTc prolongation, insomnia, and cachexia could be viewed as epiphenomena related to the tumoral and viral manipulation of host autonomic balance. In a more general framework, other paraneoplastic and paraviral syndromes may represent epiphenomena related to modulation of endocrine, cytokine, and autonomic functions by tumors and viruses to promote their own survival. Spatial distribution of cancers and viruses within the host may reflect affinity for strategic locations that facilitate manipulation of a variety of host functions including autonomic, endocrine, and cytokine regulation. A more general for understanding spatial distribution of diseases based on gradients of autonomic balance in the body are explored. Darwinian perspectives are discussed.
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