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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Abdominal vagal afferent neurones: an important target for the treatment of gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Vagal afferents are extensively distributed in the digestive tract from the oesophagus to the colon. They are involved in the reflex control of normal gastrointestinal (GI) tract function (e.g. secretion and motility) as well as reflexes more characteristic of diseases such as functional dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease (e.g. vomiting, disordered lower esophageal sphincter relaxation and gastric accommodation). They are also implicated in signalling non-painful sensations (e.g. nausea and early satiety) associated with disease. A variety of receptors has been identified on vagal afferents, which can either enhance (e.g. 5-HT3, CCK1, VR1 and NK1 receptors) or reduce (e.g. ghrelin, leptin, k-opioid and GABAB receptors) activity, offering a range of potential therapeutic targets. Commonly used laboratory species (e.g. rat and mouse) lack an emetic reflex, and the implications of this for models of upper GI disorders have been explored in the light of expanding knowledge of the neuropharmacology of the emetic reflex implicating glutamate, prostanoids, cannabinoids and substance P. Additional pathophysiological roles for vagal afferents (e.g. in thermoregulation, arousal and fatigue) are being investigated, raising the intriguing possibility of the vagus as a target in non-GI disorders.[1]


  1. Abdominal vagal afferent neurones: an important target for the treatment of gastrointestinal dysfunction. Andrews, P.L., Sanger, G.J. Current opinion in pharmacology. (2002) [Pubmed]
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