How Well Do You Know the GI Tract?

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract allows for the digestion of food, through muscle movement as well as the release of hormones and enzymes. Comprised of organs such as the esophagus, stomach and intestines, the GI tract clearly plays a critical role in everyday function. It is also involved in the immune system and various diseases, including gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome and Celiac disease.

Here’s a little bit of trivia to help brush up your knowledge of the GI tract:

  1. The GI tract contains 90-95% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter most commonly known for its role in contributing to feelings of well-being and happiness. Within the GI tract, serotonin is involved in regulating intestinal motility and is an important mediator of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  2. The GI tract is controlled by the enteric nervous system, which can act completely autonomously from the central nervous system. Informally called “The Second Brain”, the enteric nervous system is made of approximately 100 million neurons, more than found in the entire spinal cord.
  3. There are trillions of bacteria in the gut that aid in the digestion of food. Cellulose, a component of plant cells, cannot be digested by humans without the help of cellulase, an enzyme produced by bacteria in the large intestine.
  4. Due to their transparency, juvenile zebrafish are often used as a model for studying intestinal differentiation and renewal. We offer two zebrafish antibodies for intestine research, one recognizing a basement membrane marker in the intestinal epithelium and one recognizing the secretory cells of the intestinal epithelium, both mucous and enteroendocrine.
  5. Within the intestines, a single layer of epithelial cells connected by tight junctions prevents microorganisms, antigens, toxins and other contents of the intestinal lumen from entering the circulation and potentially causing disease. The epithelial cell surfaces are lined with mucin 1 (MUC1), which acts as a physical barrier to prevent pathogens from reaching the cell surface and is currently being studied for its role in cancer. We offer MUC-1 antibodies that were generated against recombinant human MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain.

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