The communication between the gut and brain is crucial for regulating various essential physiological functions, such as energy balance, fluid homeostasis, immune response, and emotion. The vagal sensory pathway plays an indispensable role in connecting the gut to the brain. Recently, our knowledge of the vagal gut-brain axis has significantly advanced through molecular genetic studies, revealing a diverse range of vagal sensory cell types with distinct peripheral innervations, response profiles, and physiological functions. Here, we review the current understanding of how vagal sensory neurons contribute to gut-brain communication. First, we highlight recent transcriptomic and genetic approaches that have characterized different vagal sensory cell types. Then, we focus on discussing how different subtypes encode numerous gut-derived signals and how their activities are translated into physiological and behavioral regulations. The emerging insights into the diverse cell types and functional properties of vagal sensory neurons have paved the way for exciting future directions, which may provide valuable insights into potential therapeutic targets for disorders involving gut-brain communication.
Keywords: Energy homeostasis; Fluid homeostasis; Gut; Immune; Inflammation; Microbiota; Nutrient; Sensory neurons; Vagal nerve.
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