Nervous system control of intestinal host defense in C. elegans

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems; Program in Innate Immunity; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Immunology and Infectious Disease | Microbiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Interplay between the nervous and immune systems is critical for homeostasis, and its dysfunction underlies pathologies such as multiple sclerosis, autism, leukemia, and inflammation. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides an opportunity to define evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of regulation of host innate immunity and inflammation in a genetically tractable whole-animal system. In the past few years, the C. elegans nervous system has emerged as an integral part of host defense against pathogens, acting through diverse mechanisms to repress or induce protective transcriptional responses to infection in distal tissues. In this review, we discuss current knowledge of the mechanisms through which the C. elegans nervous system controls the expression of host defense genes in the intestinal epithelium. Although still incomplete, the insights derived from such work have broad implications for neural regulation of epithelial function at mucosal barriers in higher organisms in health and disease.

DOI of Published Version



Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2019 Nov 29;62:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2019.11.007. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Current opinion in neurobiology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID