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Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov;25(6):503-11. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328331b69e.

Neuropeptides and inflammatory bowel disease.

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Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, USA.



Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intestinal inflammatory condition, the pathophysiology of which is not well understood. It has, however, become increasingly evident that interactions between the enteric nervous system and the immune system play an important role in the cause of IBD. Both the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system can amplify or modulate the aspects of intestinal inflammation through secretion of neuropeptides or small molecules. The purpose of this study is to present recent data on the role that neuropeptides play in the pathophysiology of IBD.


The best studied of the neuropeptides thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of IBD include substance P, corticotropin-releasing hormone, neurotensin, and vasoactive intestinal peptide; small molecules include acetylcholine and serotonin. Recently discovered functions of each of these neuropeptides with a discussion of implications of the data for therapy are reviewed.


Although the available data suggest an important role for neuropeptides in the pathophysiology of intestinal inflammation, there does yet not appear to be a function that can be taken as established for any of these molecules. The complexity of neuroimmune-endocrine systems, conflicting study results and dual mechanisms of action, warrant further research in this field. Clarification of the molecular mechanisms of action of neuropeptides and on immune and inflammatory reactions will likely yield new treatment options in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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