Neuroimmune and epithelial interactions in intestinal inflammation

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2002 Dec;2(6):669-77. doi: 10.1016/s1471-4892(02)00215-1.


The gastrointestinal tract contains the most extensive immune system in the body as well as the largest and most diverse collection of nerves outside of the central nervous system. These systems are continuously involved in ongoing physiological activities of the bowel and they play an active role in pathophysiological processes. It is becoming increasingly clear that intestinal inflammation involves a dynamic interplay between at least three different cell systems: immune cells, neurons and mucosal epithelial cells. A wide array of signalling molecules, including cytokines, neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors mediate the exchange of information between these cells. Neuroimmune-epithelial interactions that take place in the wall of the gut explain many of pathophysiological features of intestinal inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Enterotoxins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / innervation*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile