Study Illuminates Cellular and Neural Mechanism of Digestion

Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine have reported progress in understanding the role of immune system cells in healthy digestive tracts and how they interact with neighboring nerve cells. The knowledge may lead to new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A potential cause of IBS is a change in the bacterial environment in the intestine. The study, published this month in the journal Cell, examined how disturbances in this environment can lead to miscommunication between immune system cells called muscularis macrophages and intestinal neurons that regulate digestive contraction and relaxation. The authors assert that their work may illuminate how the nervous system cells, the muscularis macrophages and signals from inside the intestine interact. Read more about the findings here.

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