The 14 subprojects of the NeuroGut network are organised in a compartmental model along the process of digestion (digestive circle). They represent the various aspects of neural control of gut functions, especially in functional bowel disorders of "irritable bowel syndrome" type (IBS).

Work packages

The 14 subprojects (SPs) of the NeuroGut network are clustered into 4 scientific work packages (WPs).

Work package 1

(SPs 1, 8, 10, 11; partners 1, 8, 10) will investigate the mechanisms by which disordered gut functions are transmitted via the autonomic nervous system to the brain and how they are processed in the brain. It includes both basic science as well as clinical aspects and will use novel and established neural and brain recording techniques as well as experimental psychological and psychophysiological tools in healthy subjects and in patients with various functional bowel disorders. These tools will be used with standardized stimulation techniques but also with novel and complex intestinal events.

WP leader is partner 1 (EKUT)

Work package 2

(SPs / partners 2, 3, 5, 7) includes basic science projects dealing with physiological, immunological and genetic contributions to gut function and dysfunction. While many of the studies are performed in animal models of inflammation and hypersensitivity, in vitro tests of biological tissue (biopsies, supernatant from biopsies) from patients with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorders and healthy controls will be used as well. The standards for tissue sampling in patients are widely accepted and homogenous across laboratories, and the leaders of the respective subprojects have long standing collaborations including the exchange of tissue and supernatants.

WP leader is partner 7 (USFD)

Work package 3

(SPs / partners 4, 6 and 9) is a clinical cluster that includes projects recording different gastrointestinal functions in vivo (motility, transit, absorption, secretion, sensitivity) in patients with functional bowel disorders (and in healthy controls) and will relate them to their symptoms (pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, vomiting, reflux, dyspepsia, etc.). Many of these tests are performed as part of the clinical functional routine diagnosis using established and standardized tools (manometry, transit studies, impedance, ph-monitoring, etc.), but may also include development of novel diagnostic methods (image analysis). Occasional additional data may include bioptic or fecal material assessed for potential biomarkers of the disease.

WP leader is partner 6 (K.U.LEUVEN).

Work package 4

(SPs 12, 13 and 14; partners 3, 11, 12) comprises 3 subprojects that are conducted by one academic partner and by two industrial partners of the NeuroGut network in collaboration with one or more of the academic partners. These subprojects have either a methodological background (SP 12) dealing with a novel intestinal imaging technique applied in vivo to patients and control subjects, or a pharmacologic approach dealing with the regulation of inflammatory processes and visceral hypersensitivity (SP 13), or with the role of commensal bacteria of the human colon in functional bowel disorders, assessed with microbiological standard and high-end techniques (SP 14). The respective subprojects will, therefore cluster with one of the other work packages 1 to 3.

WP leader is partner 1 (EKUT).