Brain-gut axis: Neural pathways controlling the stomach and their relevance for treatment of gastroparesis

The neural pathways of the stomach are crucial to the control of appetite and feeding, to the regulation of the gastric phases of digestion and to the management of the safe and appropriate passage of gastric fluids into the small intestine. We are working to understand how these circuits are integrated in health and in gastric disorders.

The stomach is the portal to the rest of the digestive tract. It signals to the brain to control food intake and it regulates the supply of ingested nutrients to the rest of the gastrointestinal tract. Its correct functioning is essential to health. The main nerve connecting the brain and the stomach, the vagus is accessible for nerve stimulation, and so is a favoured site for neuromodulation therapy.

Gastroparesis is a disorder of brain gut signalling in which the brain receives inappropriate signals from the stomach, causing nausea, sometimes vomiting, and inappropriate feelings of gastric fullness. The stomach does not empty properly.

In this project you will investigate gastric control circuits using combinations of techniques, including high-resolution microscopy, multi-label immunohistochemistry, experimental surgery, nerve tracing and gene expression analysis.


Fakhry, J, Stebbing, MJ, Hunne, B, Bayguinov, Y, Ward, SM, Sasse, KC, Callaghan, B, McQuade, RM, Furness, JB: Relationships of endocrine cells to each other and to other cell types in the human gastric fundus and corpus. Cell & Tissue Res 376, 37-49 (2019),  10.1007/s00441-018-2957-0

Fothergill, LJ, Galiazzo, G, Hunne, B, Stebbing, MJ, Fakhry, J, Weissenborn, F, Fazio Coles, T, Furness, JB: Distribution and coexpression patterns of specific cell markers of enteroendocrine cells in pig gastric epithelium. Cell & Tissue Research 378, 457–469 (2019)

Hunne, B, Stebbing, MJ, McQuade, RM, Furness, JB: Distributions and relationships of chemically defined enteroendocrine cells in the rat gastric mucosa. Cell & Tissue Research 378, 33-48 (2019) DOI: 10.1007/s00441-019-03029-3

Support us

Brain health affects all Australians.
You can support our research by making a donation or a bequest.


Latest breakthroughs, news, events & more.