The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the largest immune organ; in vertebrates, it is the only organ whose function is controlled by its own intrinsic enteric nervous system (ENS), but it is additionally regulated by extrinsic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) innervation. The GI nervous and immune systems are highly integrated in their common goal, which is to unite digestive functions with protection from ingested environmental threats. This review discusses the physiological relevance of enteric neuroimmune integration by summarizing the current knowledge of evolutionary and developmental pathways, cellular organization, and molecular mechanisms of neuroimmune interactions in health and disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy