Density of Enteric Neurons Affects Intestinal Inflammation

A new study shows that the density of neurons in the gastrointestinal system may contribute to a predisposition for intestinal inflammatory disease. Although scientists had previously observed that the density of enteric neurons is increased in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it was unclear whether the greater density predated the inflammation or resulted from it. In a paper published online April 28, 2011, in Gastroenterology, Kara Margolis and her colleagues found that transgenic mice with a greater density of enteric neurons were more likely to have increased inflammation in response to induced colitis than were transgenic mice with fewer enteric neurons.

myenteric plexus

Courtesy K. Margolis

Samples of the myenteric plexus from wild-type (WT) and Hand2+/– mice stained with HuD, a marker of neuronal cell bodies. Enteric neurons in Hand2+/– mice are smaller and decreased in number compared with WT mice. Scale = 40 ?m.


Crohn's disease, Kara Margolis, WT