Michael D. Gershon, MD Professor, Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University, Vagelos College of P&S, New York, NY
"The enteric nervous system: how are these ganglia different from all other ganglia?"
Host: Dr. Ashley Nemes
Abstract: The enteric microbiota, the bowel, and the brain have been found to interact in an ongoing, tripartite conversation, the nature of which is just beginning to be understood. Communication between these actors (the microbiota-gut-brain “connectome”) entails molecular signaling, intra-enteric integrative neuronal activity, and transmission via the afferent and efferent neuronal pathways that connect the gut to the brain. Serotonin plays a critical role in the operation of the “connectome”, functioning as a paracrine messenger at the interface where the bowel’s lumen meets the nervous system, as well as an enteric neurotransmitter. Neuronal serotonin is also important as a trophic factor in enteric nervous system development. Dysfunction, which is always disturbing and sometimes also disabling, is a frequent consequence of the size, multiple components, and complexity of the microbiota-gut-brain “connectome”. The origins of this dysfunction may be genetic but may also be a result of acquired damage to components. It is likely that a better understanding of the physiology of the microbiota-gut-brain “connectome” will enhance comprehension of its pathophysiology and, ultimately therefore, therapy.