Nervous system control of intestinal host defense in C. elegans

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2020 Jun;62:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2019.11.007. Epub 2019 Nov 29.


Interplay between the nervous and immune systems is critical for homeostasis, and its dysfunction underlies pathologies such as multiple sclerosis, autism, leukemia, and inflammation. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides an opportunity to define evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of regulation of host innate immunity and inflammation in a genetically tractable whole-animal system. In the past few years, the C. elegans nervous system has emerged as an integral part of host defense against pathogens, acting through diverse mechanisms to repress or induce protective transcriptional responses to infection in distal tissues. In this review, we discuss current knowledge of the mechanisms through which the C. elegans nervous system controls the expression of host defense genes in the intestinal epithelium. Although still incomplete, the insights derived from such work have broad implications for neural regulation of epithelial function at mucosal barriers in higher organisms in health and disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Caenorhabditis elegans*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Nervous System


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins