Neurodegenerative disorders (NDs) affect essential functions not only in the CNS, but also cause persistent gut dysfunctions, suggesting that they have an impact on both CNS and gut-innervating neurons. Although the CNS biology of NDs continues to be well studied, how gut-innervating neurons, including those that connect the gut to the brain, are affected by or involved in the etiology of these debilitating and progressive disorders has been understudied. Studies in recent years have shown how CNS and gut biology, aided by the gut-brain connecting neurons, modulate each other's functions. These studies underscore the importance of exploring the gut-innervating and gut-brain connecting neurons of the CNS and gut function in health, as well as the etiology and progression of dysfunction in NDs. In this Review, we discuss our current understanding of how the various gut-innervating neurons and gut physiology are involved in the etiology of NDs, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to cause progressive CNS and persistent gut dysfunction.
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