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Feeling nauseous? Research suggests your brain plays a role

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When it feels like you're about to lose your lunch, your brain may play as big a role as your stomach. Researchers have found that a chemical produced by the immune system directly stimulates the part of the brain that controls digestion.

This explains why a variety of illnesses - from cancer to the common cold - can make people feel nauseous.

"There are so many different disease states that have nothing to do with digestion, yet make a person feel lousy enough to lose his appetite," said Richard Rogers, study co-author and a professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University.

Rogers said this study may have identified the link that connects the immune, brain and digestive systems to produce the perception of illness.

The research appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

Rogers said that before the first hint of illness, the immune system readies itself for attack by sending out a chemical called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Previous studies by Rogers and his colleagues found that TNF suppresses movement of food through the stomach. This study showed that TNF acts directly upon neurons in the part of the brain stem called the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST).

Cells in the NST are a critical part of the neural circuitry that regulates digestive functions
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Contact: Richard Rogers
Rogers.25@osu.edu
614-292-1246
Ohio State University
31-Aug-2000


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