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J Innate Immun. 2018;10(3):172-180. doi: 10.1159/000488629. Epub 2018 May 9.

Influence of Commensal Microbiota on the Enteric Nervous System and Its Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.
University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, Campus Zweibrücken, Zweibrücken, Germany.


When thinking about neurodegenerative diseases, the first symptoms that come to mind are loss of memory and learning capabilities, which all resemble hallmarks of manifestation of such diseases in the central nervous system (CNS). However, the gut comprises the largest nervous system outside the CNS that is autonomously active and in close interplay with its microbiota. Therefore, the enteric nervous system (ENS) might serve as an indicator of degenerative pathomechanisms that also affect the CNS. On the other hand, it might offer an entry point for devastating influences from the microbial community or - conversely - for therapeutic approaches via gut commensals. Within the last years, the ENS and gut microbiota therefore have sparked the interest of researchers of CNS diseases and we here report on recent findings and open questions, especially with regard to Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.


Commensal microbiota; Enteric nervous system; Neurodegenerative diseases

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