The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a complex neural network embedded in the gut wall that orchestrates the reflex behaviors of the intestine. The ENS is often referred to as the â€œlittle brainâ€ in the gut because the ENS is more similar in size, complexity and autonomy to the central nervous system (CNS) than other components of the autonomic nervous system. Like the brain, the ENS is composed of neurons that are surrounded by glial cells. Enteric glia are a unique type of peripheral glia similar to astrocytes of the CNS. Yet enteric glial cells also differ from astrocytes in many important ways. The roles of enteric glial cell populations in the gut are beginning to come to light and recent evidence implicates enteric glia in almost every aspect of gastrointestinal physiology and pathophysiology. However, elucidating the exact mechanisms by which enteric glia influence gastrointestinal physiology and identifying how those roles are altered during gastrointestinal pathophysiology remain areas of intense research. The purpose of this book is to provide an introduction to enteric glial cells and to act as a resource for ongoing studies on this fascinating population of glia.
Table of Contents
A Historical Perspective on Enteric Glia
Enteric Glia: The Astroglia of the Gut
Molecular Composition of Enteric Glia
Development of Enteric Glia
Functional Roles of Enteric Glia
Enteric Glia and Disease Processes in the Gut
About the Author(s)Brian D. Gulbransen
, Department of Physiology, Michigan State University
Dr. Brian D. Gulbransen received his Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Physiology (with Honors) from the University of Wyoming in 2003 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience from the University of Colorado (Anschutz Medical Campus) in 2007. He trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow under Keith Sharkey at the University of Calgary and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Neuroscience Program and Department of Physiology at Michigan State University.