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September 5, 2017

Organoids Reveal Clues to Gut-Brain Communication

JAMA. 2017;318(9):787-788. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11545

New research is providing insights on how enterochromaffin cells (ECs), specialized cells in the intestine, sense potentially noxious substances and trigger electrical impulses in nearby nerve fibers, thereby relaying important information to the brain.

These ECs are thought to constitute less than 1% of total intestinal epithelia, but they produce more than 90% of the body’s serotonin and have been suggested to affect a variety of physiological and pathophysiological states, including gastrointestinal motility and secretion, nausea, and visceral hypersensitivity. However, researchers have yet to fully understand how these rare and unique cell types transduce chemosensory information to the nervous system.