Emerging roles of gut microbiota and the immune system in the development of the enteric nervous system

J Clin Invest. 2015 Mar 2;125(3):956-64. doi: 10.1172/JCI76308. Epub 2015 Mar 2.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) consists of neurons and glial cells that differentiate from neural crest progenitors. During embryogenesis, development of the ENS is controlled by the interplay of neural crest cell-intrinsic factors and instructive cues from the surrounding gut mesenchyme. However, postnatal ENS development occurs in a different context, which is characterized by the presence of microbiota and an extensive immune system, suggesting an important role of these factors on enteric neural circuit formation and function. Initial reports confirm this idea while further studies in this area promise new insights into ENS physiology and pathophysiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Enteric Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Enteric Nervous System / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / innervation
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lymphoid Tissue / physiology
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity


  • Cytokines
  • Nerve Growth Factors