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Developing a cross-species nomenclature for the neural cells of the gastrointestinal tract

Gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction has considerable impact on life-quality worldwide. Digestive disorders are often parasite-related in Africa, however, a change in eating habits is now increasing the prevalence of functional and inflammatory gut disorders. Unlike other visceral organs, the gut is semi-independent from the brain as it contains an own nervous system – the enteric nervous system (ENS). ENS deficiencies are associated with congenital, inflammatory and degenerative disorders, but the system is still largely underinvestigated. My team has characterized cells of the ENS on a molecular level and found a subclass organisation that arise during development through step-wise differentiation. While we have focused on the mouse, the ENS of human and zebrafish are also being analysed with the same methodology. To bridge knowledge on the ENS from experimental research to the clinic and vice versa it is now essential to develop a common language. This project aims to compare ENS composition across species and developmental stages to devise a new nomenclature for enteric neural subtypes that should be hierarchical, modular and extendable. The nomenclature is expected to benefit a large range of disciplines and open for new insights into ENS functions and the development of new therapeutic strategies for digestive disorders.


Fellows involved in this project

Visiting scholar

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].