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Anat Rec. 2001 Jan 1;262(1):79-90.

Consequences of intestinal inflammation on the enteric nervous system: neuronal activation induced by inflammatory mediators.

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Neuroscience and Gastrointestinal Research Groups, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


The ENS is responsible for the regulation and control of all gastrointestinal functions. Because of this critical role, and probably as a consequence of its remarkable plasticity, the ENS is often relatively well preserved in conditions where the architecture of the intestine is seriously disrupted, such as in IBD. There are structural and functional changes in the enteric innervation in animal models of experimental intestinal inflammation and in IBD. These include both up and down regulation of transmitter expression and the induction of new genes in enteric neurons. Using Fos expression as a surrogate marker of neuronal activation it is now well established that enteric neurons (and also enteric glia) respond to inflammation. Whether this "activation" is limited to a short-term functional response, such as increased neuronal excitability, or reflects a long-term change in some aspect of the neuronal phenotype (or both) has yet to be firmly established, but it appears that enteric neurons are highly plastic in their response to inflammation.

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