The Role of Neuroimmune Interactions in Gastrointestinal Health and Disease

May 2024 Council

Lead Division/Office


Point(s) of Contact

Terez Shea-Donohue, Ph.D.

Executive Summary

For gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), disorders of the gut brain interactions (DGBI), metabolic diseases, and others, the correlation between disease pathology and symptoms is often imprecise, and there is a lack of disease or response biomarkers that assess treatment efficacy. In addition, current available therapies for these chronic debilitating GI diseases are limited, and traditionally have targeted either the nervous or immune system. A barrier to the development of new treatments is that these diseases are complex, multifactorial, exacerbated by stress, and may affect one gender more than another. In June 2023, NIDDK hosted a workshop highlighting neuroimmune crosstalk in the gut in health and disease as a focal point for research areas of interest to NIDDK including enteric neurodevelopment, neurogenesis, gut sensation, and gut-brain communication. The workshop recognized that dysfunctional neuroimmune communications contribute to the symptoms, severity, and chronicity of GI disorders. Moreover, remodeling of neuroimmune interactions may underlie the persistence of symptoms in disease remission in IBD or in the absence of overt disease pathology in DGBI. To advance research in the area of neuroimmune interactions related to GI diseases, it is necessary to incentivize collaboration between siloed investigators in immunology and neurogastroenterology and facilitate sharing of state-of-the-art resources specific to each area.