The human enteric nervous system. Historical and modern advances. Collaboration between science and surgery

ANZ J Surg. 2022 Jun;92(6):1365-1370. doi: 10.1111/ans.17688. Epub 2022 Apr 11.


Background: There are considerable advantages and opportunities for surgeons and trainee surgeons in conducting a period of research allied with basic scientists. Such clinicians are well placed to define relevant clinical questions, provide human material (tissue, biopsy and blood) and translate the techniques derived in experimental animals to human subjects.

Methods: This small review explores research conducted on the nervous system of the intestines, with an emphasis on the translation of findings from animal to human.

Results: This work shows that new techniques of immunohistochemistry and retrograde tracing, developed in animal tissue, have greatly expanded our knowledge of the structure of the human enteric nervous system.

Conclusions: Such findings have sparked therapeutic trials for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in patients.

Keywords: colon; enteric nervous system; neural pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Enteric Nervous System* / pathology
  • Enteric Nervous System* / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intestines