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Current Molecular Medicine


ISSN (Print): 1566-5240
ISSN (Online): 1875-5666

Gastrointestinal Immune System and Brain Dialogue Implicated in Neuroinflammatory and Neurodegenerative Diseases

Author(s): G. Deretzi, J. Kountouras, S. A. Polyzos, C. Zavos, E. Giartza-Taxidou, E. Gavalas and I. Tsiptsios

Volume 11, Issue 8, 2011

Page: [696 - 707] Pages: 12

DOI: 10.2174/156652411797536660

Price: $65


A common characteristic of the central nervous system (CNS) neurodegenerative disorders is neuroinflammation, marked by augmented numbers of activated and primed microglia, increased inflammatory cytokines and decreased anti-inflammatory molecules. CNS neuroinflammation is a critical component in the progression of several neurodegenerative diseases which sensitize the brain to produce an exaggerated response to immune stimuli in the periphery. Neuroinflammation might initiate from the periphery and peripheral conditions through disrupted blood-brain barrier powerfully influence various brain pathologies. Gastrointestinal tract (GIT) represents a vulnerable area through which pathogens influence the brain and induce CNS neuroinflammation. The pathogens may access the CNS through blood, the nasal olfactory pathways and the GIT. Potential GI pathogens, such as Helicobacter pylori, induce humoral and cellular immune responses that, owing to the sharing of homologous epitopes (molecular mimicry), cross-react with CNS components thereby contributing and possibly perpetuating neural tissue damage. GIT is strictly connected to the CNS and a bi-directional communication exists between them. The brain is involved in regulating the immune and gut system. Conversely, limited attention has been paid on the GIT role in the development and regulation of the CNS autoimmune diseases. The GIT is the primary immune organ with specialized immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory functions, represented by the gastrointestinal immune system (GIS). This review focuses on the potential GIS and brain dialogue implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. Gaining a better understanding of the relationship between GIS and CNS could provide an insight on the pathogenesis and therapeutic strategies of these disorders.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal immune system, central nervous system, dysbiosis, neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, Helicobacter pylori, immune cells, free radicals, oxidative stress, macrophages, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, epilepsy

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