Nociceptive pain is a hallmark of many chronic inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs); however, whether pain-sensing neurons influence intestinal inflammation remains poorly defined. Employing chemogenetic silencing, adenoviral-mediated colon-specific silencing, and pharmacological ablation of TRPV1+ nociceptors, we observed more severe inflammation and defective tissue-protective reparative processes in a murine model of intestinal damage and inflammation. Disrupted nociception led to significant alterations in the intestinal microbiota and a transmissible dysbiosis, while mono-colonization of germ-free mice with Gram+ Clostridium spp. promoted intestinal tissue protection through a nociceptor-dependent pathway. Mechanistically, disruption of nociception resulted in decreased levels of substance P, and therapeutic delivery of substance P promoted tissue-protective effects exerted by TRPV1+ nociceptors in a microbiota-dependent manner. Finally, dysregulated nociceptor gene expression was observed in intestinal biopsies from IBD patients. Collectively, these findings indicate an evolutionarily conserved functional link between nociception, the intestinal microbiota, and the restoration of intestinal homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4170-4189.e20
Issue number22
StatePublished - Oct 27 2022


  • IBD
  • TRPV1 nociceptor
  • intestinal damage and inflammation
  • intestinal microbiota
  • neuron-microbiota crosstalk
  • substance P
  • tissue protection


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