Pain-Sensing Gut Neurons Protect Against Inflammation

Authors: Wen Zhang, Mengze Lyu, Nicholas J. Bessman, Zili Xie, Mohammad Arifuzzaman, Hiroshi Yano, Christopher N. Parkhurst, Coco Chu, Lei Zhou, Gregory G. Putzel, Ting-Ting Li, Wen-Bing Jin, Jordan Zhou, JRI Live Cell Bank, Hongzhen Hu, Amy M. Tsou, Chun-Jun Guo, David Artis

Research paper: Gut-innervating nociceptors regulate the intestinal microbiota to promote tissue protection: Cell

Media release:


Pain is a hallmark of many chronic inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs); however, whether pain-sensing neurons influence intestinal inflammation remains poorly defined. 

We observed more severe inflammation and defective tissue-protective reparative processes in a preclinical model of intestinal damage and inflammation. Disrupted pain receptors led to significant alterations in the intestinal microbiota and a transmissible dysbiosis. 

Finally, dysregulated pain receptor gene expression was observed in intestinal biopsies from IBD patients. Collectively, these findings indicate an evolutionarily conserved functional link between pain, the intestinal microbiota, and the restoration of intestinal homeostasis.