The intestinal wall, which consists of several cell populations (epithelial cells, immune, nervous, smooth muscle ...) is the first barrier of the body to be exposed to food contaminants. It is in close contact with the intestinal microbiota, the various secretions of the digestive tract and undergoes a permanent regulation by endogenous neuroendocrine factors. Disruption of the barrier function of the intestine by dietary or endogenous factors is involved in various digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
Our central research theme is to investigate the neurohumoral regulation of the intestinal barrier by
- (i) factors present in the lumen of the digestive tract,
- (ii) sex steroids and xenoestrogens or
- (iii) viscero-visceral interactions.
We study the influence of these factors on intestinal permeability, mucosal immunity, gut-brain axis and visceral sensitivity in physiological and pathophysiological conditions.