The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a large, complex division of the peripheral nervous system that regulates many digestive, immune, hormonal, and metabolic functions. Recent advances have elucidated the dynamic nature of the mature ENS, as well as the complex, bidirectional interactions among enteric neurons, glia, and the many other cell types that are important for mediating gut behaviors. Here, we provide an overview of ENS development and maintenance, and focus on the latest insights gained from the use of novel model systems and live-imaging techniques. We discuss major advances in the understanding of enteric glia, and the functional interactions among enteric neurons, glia, and enteroendocrine cells, a large class of sensory epithelial cells. We conclude by highlighting recent work on muscularis macrophages, a group of immune cells that closely interact with the ENS in the gut wall, and the importance of neurological–immune system communication in digestive health and disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes