The gastrointestinal tract faces unique challenges. It has to protect us against pathogens we may ingest while tolerating beneficial microorganisms that live there and allowing absorption of nutrients.
Dynamic communication between local nervous and immune systems keeps the gut healthy and functional. Disruption of this communication can contribute to the emergence of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
The moving image created by researchers Cyril, Le and Verena provides different 3D views of this network of nerves – sometimes called the ‘second brain’ – helping us better understand how nerve cells (in yellow and blue) sense changes in the gut environment and instruct immune cells (in red) to respond appropriately.
Music by Amalija Kostich Angerson