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Annette Kirchgessner, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

E-mail: alk2@columbia.edu

Physiology of enteric and enteropancreatic reflexes

Our laboratory is studying the physiology of enteric and enteropancreatic reflexes. The enteric nervous system (ENS), the intrinsic innervation of the gut, is the only organ of the body that can mediate reflex activity independently of an innervation from the CNS. The ENS also innervates other organs, including the pancreas (Kirchgessner and Gershon, '90). Pancreatic ganglia are similar to enteric ganglia, and are the primary target of the enteric innervation. When enteric neurons are stimulated, neurons in pancreatic ganglia, as well as the islet and acinar cells they innervate, are activated. Our goals are to understand the neural basis of enteric peristaltic reflex, enteropancreatic reflexes, the role of KATP channels in the "sensing" of glucose, and the modulation of enteric and enteropancreatic reflexes by leptin.

Our work on the physiology of enteric and enteropancreatic reflexes is supplemented by the cellular biology of one of the neurons of enteric ganglia, the glutamate neuron. Current work involves characterization of enteric glutamate (ionotropic and metabotropic) receptors, regulation of glutamate release, and studies on the role of glutamate in the peristaltic reflex. A variety of techniques are used in these studies, including: electrophysiology, Ca2+ image and molecular biology.

Selected publications
Kirchgessner, A.L., and Gershon, M.D. (1990) Innervation of the pancreas by neurons in the gut. J. Neurosci., 10: 1626-1642.

Liu, M.-T., Rothstein, J.D., Gershon, M.D., and Kirchgessner, A.L. (1997) Glutamatergic enteric neurons. J. Neurosci., 17: 4764-4784.

Liu, M.-T. and Kirchgessner, A.L. (1997) Guinea pig pancreatic neurons: morphology, neurochemistry, electrical properties, and response to 5-HT. Am. J. Physiol., 273: G1273-1289.

Kirchgessner, A.L., Liu, M-T., and Alcantara, F. (1997) Excitotoxicity in the enteric nervous system. J. Neurosci., 17: 8804-8816.

Kirchgessner, A.L. and Liu, M.-T. (1998) Immunohistochemical localization of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the guinea pig bowel and pancreas. J. Comp. Neurol., 390: 497-514.

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