The gut microbiota keeps enteric glial cells on the move; prospective roles of the gut epithelium and immune system

More about Open Access at the Crick


The enteric nervous system (ENS) coordinates the major functions of the gastrointestinal tract. Its development takes place within a constantly changing environment which, after birth, culminates in the establishment of a complex gut microbiota. How such changes affect ENS development and its subsequent function throughout life is an emerging field of study that holds great interest but which is inadequately explored thus far. In this addendum, we discuss our recent findings showing that a component of the ENS, the enteric glial cell network that resides in the gut lamina propria, develops after birth and parallels the evolution of the gut microbiota. Importantly, this network was found to be malleable throughout life by incorporating new cells that arrive from the area of the gut wall in a process of directional movement which was controlled by the lumen gut microbiota. Finally, we postulate on the roles of the intestinal epithelium and the immune system as potential intermediaries between gut microbiota and ENS responses.

Journal details

Journal Gut Microbes
Volume 6
Issue number 6
Pages 398-403
Available online
Publication date