The Versatile Role of the Vagus Nerve in the Gastrointestinal Tract - European Medical Journal
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The Versatile Role of the Vagus Nerve in the Gastrointestinal Tract

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Authors:
Nathalie Stakenborg, Martina Di Giovangiulio, Guy E. Boeckxstaens, Gianluca Matteoli
Disclosure:

No potential conflict of interest.

Support:

Supported by grants from Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO); Odysseus and Hercules program to G.E.B., FWO postdoctoral research fellowship to G.M. and by FWO PhD fellowship to M.DG.

Received:
03.09.13
Accepted:
29.11.13
Citation
EMJ Gastroenterol. ;[1]:106-114.

Each article is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 License.

Abstract

The vagus nerve, the major nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, innervates several organs from the neck to the abdomen. The vagal branches contain afferent (i.e. sensory) and efferent (i.e. motor) fibres contributing to a bidirectional communication between the visceral organs and the brain. The extensive vagal innervation of the body indicates that vagus nerve has a multitude of physiological functions. Specifically, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is densely innervated by the vagus nerve and the latter plays a crucial role in GI functions such as food intake, digestion, and GI barrier function. In addition, the vagus nerve has immunomodulatory properties suggesting that activation of the parasympathetic innervation of the GI tract could act as a new therapeutic tool to treat intestinal immune diseases. This review summarises the anatomical and physiological properties of the vagal innervation of the GI tract.

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