Neural immune communication in the control of host-bacterial pathogen interactions in the gastrointestinal tract

Valerie Ramirez, Samantha Swain, Kaitlin Murray, Colin Reardon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The orchestration of host immune responses to enteric bacterial pathogens is a complex process involving the integration of numerous signals, including from the nervous system. Despite the recent progress in understanding the contribution of neuroimmune interactions in the regulation of inflammation, the mechanisms and effects of this communication during enteric bacterial infection are only beginning to be characterized. As part of this neuroimmune communication, neurons specialized to detect painful or otherwise noxious stimuli can respond to bacterial pathogens. Highlighting the complexity of these systems, the immunological consequences of sensory neuron activation can be either host adaptive or maladaptive, depending on the pathogen and organ system. These are but one of many types of neuroimmune circuits, with the vagus nerve and sympathetic innervation of numerous organs now known to modulate immune cell function and therefore dictate immunological outcomes during health and disease. Here, we review the evidence for neuroimmune communication in response to bacterial pathogens, and then discuss the consequences to host morbidity and mortality during infection of the gastrointestinal tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00928-19
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway
  • Citrobacter
  • Enteric bacterial pathogens
  • Enteric nervous system
  • Enteric pathogens
  • Gastrointestinal infection
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation
  • Host defense
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Sensory neurons
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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