Neuro-immune interactions in inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome: Future therapeutic targets

Division Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Utrecht University, PO box 80082, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.
European Journal of Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.68). 06/2008; 585(2-3):361-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.02.095
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The gastro-intestinal tract is well known for its largest neural network outside the central nervous system and for the most extensive immune system in the body. Research in neurogastroenterology implicates the involvement of both enteric nervous system and immune system in symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Since both disorders are associated with increased immune cell numbers, nerve growth and activation of both immune cells and nerves, we focus in this review on the involvement of immune cell-nerve interactions in inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Firstly, the possible effects of enteric nerves, especially of the nonadrenergic and noncholinergic nerves, on the intestinal immune system and their possible role in the pathogenesis of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases are described. Secondly, the possible effects of immunological factors, from the innate (chemokines and Toll-like receptors) as well as the adaptive (cytokines and immunoglobulins) immune system, on gastro-intestinal nerves and its potential role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome are reviewed. Investigations of receptor-mediated and intracellular signal pathways in neuro-immune interactions might help to develop more effective therapeutic approaches for chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases.

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