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Visceral nerves: vagal and sympathetic innervation.

Authors
  • Teff, Karen L
Type
Published Article
Journal
JPEN. Journal of parenteral and enteral nutrition
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
Volume
32
Issue
5
Pages
569–571
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0148607108321705
PMID: 18753395
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The autonomic nervous system is the primary neural mediator of physiological responses to internal and external stimuli. It is composed of 2 branches: the sympathetic nervous system, which mediates catabolic responses, and the parasympathetic nervous system, composed of the vagus nerve, which regulates anabolic responses. As the vagus nerve innervates most tissues involved in nutrient metabolism, including the stomach, pancreas, and liver, activation of vagal efferent activity has the potential to influence how nutrients are absorbed and metabolized. Vagal efferent activity is initially activated at the onset of food intake by receptors in the oropharyngeal cavity and then during food intake postprandially. Vagal efferent innervation of the pancreas contributes to early-phase insulin release as well as to optimizing postprandial insulin release. In the absence of vagal activation, which occurs when glucose is administered intragastrically, postprandial glucose levels are higher and insulin levels blunted compared with when there is activation of oropharyngeal receptors by food. An induction of vagal efferent activity also occurs during chronic pancreatic B-cell challenge with 48-hour glucose infusions. Under these conditions, the compensatory increase in insulin secretion is partially mediated by an increase in vagal efferent activity. In conclusion, the vagus nerve, part of the parasympathetic nervous system, plays a critical role in the regulation of blood glucose levels and is an often overlooked factor contributing to glucose homeostasis.

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