Role of neuropeptides in inflammatory bowel disease

Kara J. Gross, Charalabos Pothoulakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic, relapsing condition involving complex interactions between genes and the environment. The mechanisms triggering the initial attack and relapses, however, are not well understood. In the past several years the enteric nervous system (ENS) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of IBD. Both the ENS and the central nervous system (CNS) can amplify or modulate aspects of intestinal inflammation through secretion of neuropeptides that serve as a link between the ENS and CNS. Neuropeptides are defined as any peptide released from the nervous system that serves as an intercellular signaling molecule. Neuropeptides thought to play a potentially key role in IBD include substance P, corticotropin-releasing hormone, neurotensin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, mu-opioid receptor agonists, and galanin. This review focuses on the role of these neuropeptides in the pathophysiology of IBD and discusses the cell types and mechanisms involved in this process. The available evidence that neuropeptide blockade may be considered a therapeutic approach in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-932
Number of pages15
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestine
  • Neuropeptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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