Excitability and synaptic transmission in the enteric nervous system: Does diet play a role?
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. Changes in diet are a challenge to the gastrointestinal tract which needs to alter its processing mechanisms to continue to process nutrients and maintain health. In particular, the enteric nervous system (ENS) needs to adapt its motor and secretory programs to deal with changes in nutrient type and load in order to optimise nutrient absorption. The nerve circuits in the gut are complex, and the numbers and types of neurons make recordings of specific cell types difficult, time-consuming, and prone to sampling errors. Nonetheless, traditional research methods like intracellular electrophysiological approaches have provided the basis for our understanding of the ENS circuitry. In particular, animal models of intestinal inflammation have shown us that we can document changes to neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission. Recent studies examining diet-induced changes to ENS programming have opted to use fast imaging techniques to reveal changes in neuron function. Advances in imaging techniques using voltage- or calcium-sensitive dyes to record neuronal activity promise to overcome many limitations inherent to electrophysiological approaches. Imaging techniques allow access to a wide range of ENS phenotypes and to the changes they undergo during dietary challenges. These sorts of studies have shown that dietary variation or obesity can change how the ENS processes information-in effect reprogramming the ENS. In this review, the data gathered from intracellular recordings will be compared with measurements made using imaging techniques in an effort to determine if the lessons learnt from inflammatory changes are relevant to the understanding of diet-induced reprogramming.
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