Colitis is associated with a loss of intestinofugal neurons

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12 Scopus citations


Intestinofugal neurons sense and receive information regarding mechanical distension of the bowel and transmit this information to postganglionic sympathetic neurons in the prevertebral ganglia. Previous studies have demonstrated that trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis is associated with a loss of myenteric neurons that occurs within the first 12 h following the inflammatory insult. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that intestinofugal neurons are among the myenteric neurons lost during TNBS-induced colitis. The retrograde tracing dye Fast Blue was used to label intestinofugal neurons, and immunohistochemical staining for the RNA-binding proteins HuC/D was used to count all myenteric neurons. Ongoing synaptic input to neurons in the guinea pig inferior mesenteric ganglion (IMG) was recorded via conventional intracellular electrophysiology. In control preparations, intestinofugal neurons account for 0.25% of myenteric neurons. In the distal colon of TNBS-treated animals, the proportion of intestinofugal neurons was reduced to 0.05% (an 80% reduction) within the region of inflammation where 20-25% of myenteric neurons were lost. Neither intestinofugal neurons specifically nor myenteric neurons were reduced in more proximal uninflamed regions. There is a reduction in the frequency of ongoing synaptic potentials in visceromotor neurons of the IMG at 12 and 24 h and 6 and 56 days after TNBS. Collectively, the results of this study suggest that intestinofugal neurons are among the myenteric neurons lost during inflammation and may be selectively targeted. Because intestinofugal neurons are a major driver of sympathetic output to the gut, the loss of intestinofugal neurons may have a profound pathophysiological significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G1096-G1104
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012


  • Colonofugal
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Viscerofugal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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