Enteric nervous system

The enteric nervous system (ENS) or intrinsic nervous system is one of the main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and consists of a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract.[1] It is capable of acting independently of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, although it may be influenced by them. The ENS is nicknamed the "second brain".[2][3] It is derived from neural crest cells.[4][5]

Enteric nervous system
The enteric nervous system is embedded in the lining of the gastrointestinal system.
Identifiers
Acronym(s)ENS
MeSHD017615
FMA66070
Anatomical terminology

The enteric nervous system is capable of operating independently of the brain and spinal cord,[6] but does rely on innervation from the vagus nerve and prevertebral ganglia in healthy subjects. However, studies have shown that the system is operable with a severed vagus nerve.[7] The neurons of the enteric nervous system control the motor functions of the system, in addition to the secretion of gastrointestinal enzymes. These neurons communicate through many neurotransmitters similar to the CNS, including acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin. The large presence of serotonin and dopamine in the gut are key areas of research for neurogastroenterologists.[8][9][10]


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