Neuropeptides and inflammatory bowel disease

Kara Gross Margolisa, Michael David Gershonb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of review Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intestinal inflammatory condition, the pathophysiology of which is not well understood. It has, however, become increasingly evident that interactions between the enteric nervous system and the immune system play an important role in the cause of IBD. Both the enteric nervous system and the central nervous system can amplify or modulate the aspects of intestinal inflammation through secretion of neuropeptides or small molecules. The purpose of this study is to present recent data on the role that neuropeptides play in the pathophysiology of IBD. Recent findings The best studied of the neuropeptides thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of IBD include substance P, corticotropin-releasing hormone, neurotensin, and vasoactive intestinal peptide; small molecules include acetylcholine and serotonin. Recently discovered functions of each of these neuropeptides with a discussion of implications of the data for therapy are reviewed. Summary Although the available data suggest an important role for neuropeptides in the pathophysiology of intestinal inflammation, there does yet not appear to be a function that can be taken as established for any of these molecules. The complexity of neuroimmune-endocrine systems, conflicting study results and dual mechanisms of action, warrant further research in this field. Clarification of the molecular mechanisms of action of neuropeptides and on immune and inflammatory reactions will likely yield new treatment options in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-511
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Gastroenterology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neuropeptides
  • Zintestinal inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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