Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

2009 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Binder, Nobutaka Hirokawa, Uwe Windhorst

Enteric Nervous System

  • John B. Furness
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_3035


A division of the autonomic nervous system whose component neurons lie within the walls of the digestive organs (esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, gall bladder and pancreato-biliary ducts). The  enteric nervous system (ENS) contains entire nerve circuits for digestive organ control, and can function autonomously.

The enteric nervous system is the intrinsic nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract through which gastrointestinal motility, gastrointestinal intramural blood flow and fluid movement across the mucosal lining of the intestine are controlled.


Organization and Relationships

The enteric nervous system is composed of thousands of small ganglia that lie within the walls of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, gallbladder and biliary tree, the nerve fibers that connect these ganglia, and nerve fibers that supply the muscle of the gut wall, the mucosal epithelium, arterioles and other effector tissues [1,2,3]. Large...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Furness JB (2006) The enteric nervous system. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 1–274Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brookes SJH, Costa M (2002) Cellular organisation of the mammalian enteric nervous system. In: Brookes SJH, Costa M (eds) Innervation of the gastrointestinal tract. Taylor and Frances, London, pp 393–467Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gershon MD (2005) Nerves, reflexes, and the enteric nervous system. J Clin Gastroenterol 38:S184–S193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Furness JB, Kunze WAA, Clerc N (1999) Nutrient tasting and signaling mechanisms in the gut II. The intestine as a sensory organ: neural, endocrine, and immune responses. Am J Physiol 277:G922–G928PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Furness JB, Jones C, Nurgali K, Clerc N (2004) Intrinsic primary afferent neurons and nerve circuits within the intestine. Prog Neurobiol 72:143–164PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    De Giorgio R, Camilleri M (2004) Human enteric neuropathies: morphology and molecular pathology. Neurogastroenterol Motil 16:515–531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Spiller R, Grundy D (2004) Pathophysiology of the enteric nervous system, a basis for understanding functional diseases. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John B. Furness
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia