Inflammation in the gut is encoded by neurons in the brain
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The nervous and immune systems interact in a bidirectional manner. It emerges that inflammation in the body activates brain cells that, when later reactivated, can trigger a recapitulation of the inflammatory response.

  1. David Brea

    1. David Brea is at the Champalimaud Foundation, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, 1400-038 Lisbon, Portugal.

  2. Henrique Veiga-Fernandes

    1. Henrique Veiga-Fernandes is at the Champalimaud Foundation, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, 1400-038 Lisbon, Portugal.

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Interactions between the nervous and the immune systems have been a topic of great interest over the past few decades. Neuronal signals can affect immune functions, and immune cells can modulate the activity of neurons in the brain and spinal cord, or in the rest of the body (known as the periphery), in health and disease1,2. Writing in Cell, Koren et al.3 demonstrate that inflammation in the abdominal cavity results in the stimulation of certain neurons in a brain area called the insular cortex, or the insula. Artificial reactivation of these ‘immune-imprinted’ neurons is sufficient to generate organ-specific recall of inflammatory responses that resemble the initial inflammatory episode.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-03802-x

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Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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1 Comment

  1. For me, the thing that sucks most about IBS is the medication. The link between mind/body/pain/inflammation is pretty obvious when you start taking strong anti-inflammatory drugs, at least for me! Evidently, everyone in my family tree responds really poorly to steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs – a relative of mine committed suicide after taking steroids for IBS with absolutely no evident mental problems before treatment, leaving behind his young family. Personally, I'd rather die early from my gut diseases than go back on anti-inflammatory drugs, even the modern biologic ones that supposedly have no side-effects. There's just no way to target inflammation with drugs without severely impacting the brain (at least with me and my family's biology).