Gut 63:1207-1208 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-305929
  • Commentary

An apPEAling new therapeutic for ulcerative colitis?

  1. David P Finn
  1. Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, Galway Neuroscience Centre and Centre for Pain Research, NCBES, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Declan P McKernan Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland; declan.mckernan{at}
  • Received 4 October 2013
  • Accepted 7 October 2013
  • Published Online First 23 October 2013

IBD includes Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), which are multifaceted chronic inflammatory conditions. Their aetiology is thought to involve the interaction of genetic, immunological and environmental factors. Current therapeutics have not succeeded in eliminating the burden of these diseases. Some are associated with side effects, which themselves can cause discomfort for the patient, leading to a decrease in compliance and a return to the status quo prior to medication. In addition, the cost of current therapeutics is very high.1 All of these considerations require the development of less toxic, better tolerated, more efficacious and cheaper drugs.

Enteric glial cells (EGCs) are major constituents of the enteric nervous system, outnumbering neurones by 4–1.2 They are thought to help control motility, secretion, nutrient uptake and blood flow via their interactions with enteric nerves. Evidence of their importance in the transduction of inflammatory signals is now emerging. They are capable of producing many inflammatory cytokines as well as neurokinin A and substance P, which can act on immune cells in their vicinity.2 Glial proliferation is seen in animal models of inflammation, as well as …