Intake of food induces gut hormone VIP which ramps up gut immunity
As you start to eat a delicious meal, your gut senses the oncoming rush of food and kicks into action. Like a lifeguard overseeing children at the pool, your gut plays a protective role, scanning the situation for dangers. A new study has revealed that the its protective mechanisms – a series of chemical reactions that lead to the immune system ramping up – kick into gear when we eat. Nerves in the intestine (red in the intestine pictured) release a hormone called VIP (green), which activates immune cells (blue) in preparation for any unwanted invaders that might slip in with the food. The research also found that the protective immunity is increased at regular mealtimes, highlighting the importance of regular eating patterns to health. Learning how the gut naturally protects us might help improve strategies for people with chronic inflammation conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Written by Anthony Lewis
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.