Dr. Jing Yang's Lab: Sarm1-mediated neurodegeneration within the enteric nervous system protects against local inflammation of the colon




Axonal degeneration is one of the key features of neurodegenerative disorders. In the canonical view, axonal degeneration destructs neural connections and promotes detrimental disease defects. Here, we assessed the enteric nervous system (ENS) of the mouse, non-human primate, and human by advanced 3D imaging. We observed the profound neurodegeneration of catecholaminergic axons in human colons with ulcerative colitis, and similarly, in mouse colons during acute dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. However, we unexpectedly revealed that blockage of such axonal degeneration by the Sarm1 deletion in mice exacerbated the colitis condition. In contrast, pharmacologic ablation or chemogenetic inhibition of catecholaminergic axons suppressed the colon inflammation. We further showed that the catecholaminergic neurotransmitter norepinephrine exerted a pro-inflammatory function by enhancing the expression of IL-17 cytokines. Together, this study demonstrated that Sarm1-mediated neurodegeneration within the ENS mitigated local inflammation of the colon, uncovering a previously-unrecognized beneficial role of axonal degeneration in this disease context.


Original Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13238-021-00835-w