Immune System, Nerve Cells Jointly Work to Fight Gut Infections, Suggesting New IBD Treatment Strategies

Immune System, Nerve Cells Jointly Work to Fight Gut Infections, Suggesting New IBD Treatment Strategies
Nerve cells in the gut work with the immune system to fight infections, suggesting potential therapeutic avenues for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), say researchers at New York's Weill Cornell Medicine. Their study, “The neuropeptide neuromedin U stimulates innate lymphoid cells and type 2 inflammation,” appeared in the journal Nature. It shows that both the immune system and the nervous system developed in parallel to respond to infections. "The immune system and neuronal system don't act independently," David Artis, the study’s senior author and director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, said in a press release. "These guys are dancing like a tango," added Christopher S. N. Klose, the study's lead author.  The inner wall of the gut hosts a large population of immune cells, which protect against parasites and other infections while maintaining local equilibrium. The study showed that a subtype of immune cells in the gut – group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), which produce pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines — are intertwined with cholinergic neurons which produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The results uncovered a mechanism through which the nervous system and the immune system communicate. Specifically, the cholinergic neurons contain and release neuromedin U (NMU), a small protein that binds to receptors located in ILC2 cells. In both in vitro and
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