Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Non-canonical cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in IBD

Vagus nerve stimulation has shown promise in treating inflammatory bowel disease. A new study identifies a hepatic vagal branch pathway necessary to maintain colonic immune cell homeostasis in experimental colitis, challenging the dogma that an anti-inflammatory reflex requires an intact spleen and that α7-nicotinic receptor agonists are a panacea for inflammatory conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: The common hepatic branch of the vagus nerve increases abundance of colonic regulatory T cells in colitis.


  1. 1.

    de Lartigue, G. Role of the vagus nerve in the development and treatment of diet-induced obesity. J. Physiol. 594, 5791–5815 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Lei, W. & Duan, Z. Advances in the treatment of cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathways in gastrointestinal diseases by electrical stimulation of vagus nerve. Digestion (2019).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Teratani, T. et al. The liver–brain–gut neural arc maintains the Treg cell niche in the gut. Nature (2020).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Berthoud, H. R. Anatomy and function of sensory hepatic nerves. Anat. Rec. A Discov. Mol. Cell Evol. Biol. 280, 827–835 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Chassaing, B., Etienne-Mesmin, L. & Gewirtz, A. T. Microbiota-liver axis in hepatic disease. Hepatology 59, 328–339 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Han, W. et al. A neural circuit for gut-induced reward. Cell 175, 665–678 (2018).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Murray, K. & Reardon, C. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway revisited. Neurogastroenterol. Motil. (2018).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Berthoud, H. R., Carlson, N. R. & Powley, T. L. Topography of efferent vagal innervation of the rat gastrointestinal tract. Am. J. Physiol. 260, R200–207 (1991).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Zhang, B. et al. Inflammatory bowel disease is associated with higher dementia risk: a nationwide longitudinal study. Gut (2020).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Fu, P., Gao, M. & Yung, K. K. L. Association of intestinal disorders with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. ACS Chem. Neurosci. 11, 395–405 (2020).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


A.A. and G.L. are both supported by grants from NIH-NIDDK.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guillaume de Lartigue.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

de Araujo, A., de Lartigue, G. Non-canonical cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in IBD. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 17, 651–652 (2020).

Download citation


Quick links