The role of neuropeptides in gut motor activity

Flinders University researchers are studying the role of two ‘neuropeptides’ neurotransmitter molecules in initiating gut motor activity, in the hope it will lead to more specific drugs to control common disturbances of the gut such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The primary function of the digestive system is to absorb the nutrients, water, and electrolytes that are essential for life.

This depends on the ability of the gastrointestinal tract to mix contents to maximize absorption and effectively excrete waste material. This is achieved by motor functions controlled by the enteric nervous system (ENS).

With the help of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, Professor Marcello Costa will build on research which strongly suggests a universal role of two neuropeptides in the ENS in initiating gut motor activity.

If confirmed, this could lead to more specific drugs to control excessive motor activities common in some colonic disturbances such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Research category: Gut Health

Project title: Role of neuropeptides in the motor complexes in the guinea pig colon

Lead researcher: Professor Marcello Costa

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