On the development of the parasympathetic, enteric and sacral nervous systems

Abstract : Neural crest cells migrate extensively to form the autonomic nervous system including sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric ganglia essential for regulating bodily homeostasis. In the present work, I explore the migratory mechanisms and neuronal interactions during autonomic circuit assembly, as well as their molecular dependencies. I show that parasympathetic ganglia derive from Schwann cell precursors (SCPs) and migrate along their preganglionic nerves to locate close to their target tissues (Espinosa-Medina et al., 2014). In line with this work, I show that vagal-associated SCPs give rise to part of the oesophageal nervous system, whereas cervical sympathetic-like crest cells colonize all the gastrointestinal tract, demonstrating a dual origin and different migration mechanisms for enteric neurons. Finally, I revise the identity of the sacral autonomic outflow, whose allocation to the parasympathetic nervous system has been accepted for a century. Sacral autonomic neurons control rectal, bladder, and genital functions and analysis of their cellular phenotype was lacking. Here I present a differential molecular signature for cranial parasympathetic versus thoraco-lumbar sympathetic neurons and show that, in this light, the sacral autonomic outflow is sympathetic. Accordingly, the parasympathetic nervous system receives input from cranial nerves exclusively and the sympathetic nervous system from spinal nerves, thoracic to sacral inclusively (Espinosa-Medina et al., 2016). Interestingly the enteric nervous system, which receives input from both sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, shares with each system aspects of its ontogeny.
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Isabel Espinosa Medina. On the development of the parasympathetic, enteric and sacral nervous systems. Development Biology. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066009⟩. ⟨tel-01722701v2⟩

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