Neuro-immune interactions: Nerve pathways that control inflammation in the intestine

Project Details

It is well known that enteric nerves respond to inflammation, causing changes in the function of the gut, but recently it has become clear that nerves also act back on the immune cells in the gut to control inflammation. Changes in the nerve pathways that sense and control inflammation in the gut may contribute to disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

This study aims to better understand the nerve pathways that sense inflammation in the intestine and control the innate immune cells that mediate inflammatory reactions in the gut. It will also determine how these nerves change in inflammatory conditions of the bowel both in animals and in humans.

You will use neuronal tracing and molecular techniques to identify and characterize the neurons that project to and control immune cells of the gut. You will also use electrophysiological recordings, immunohistochemical and molecular techniques to study the responses of these neurons and changes in their properties during acute and chronic inflammation of the gut in animal and human tissue from patients with inflammatory bowel disease.


  • Project supervisor: Dr Martin Stebbing
  • Project members: Dr Juan Molero, Professor John Furness,


Dr Peter De Cruz

Professor Robin McAllen

Dr Scott Mueller

Research Publications

Payne, SC, Furness JB, Stebbing, MJ:  Bioelectric neuromodulation for gastrointestinal disorders: effectiveness and mechanisms. Nature Rev Gastro Hepatol 16, 89–105 (2019) DOI: 10.1038/ s41575-018-0078-6

Payne, SC, Furness, JB, Burns, O, Sedo, A, Hyakumura, T, Shepherd, RK, Fallon, JB: Anti-inflammatory Effects of Abdominal Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Experimental Intestinal Inflammation. Front Neurosci. May 8;13:418. (2019) doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00418.

Research Group

Furness laboratory: Digestive physiology and nutrition

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology, Neuroscience

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

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