Immune response in brain sparks nausea | Science News

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Immune response in brain sparks nausea

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3:07pm, March 16, 2004

Ailments ranging from the common cold to many types of cancer can make people nauseous, an effect that may occur because signals from the brain suppress the muscle contractions required for digestion.

Ailments ranging from the common cold to many types of cancer can make people nauseous. A new study in the September American Journal of Physiology: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology may explain this unpleasant symptom.

Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus injected rats with an immune-signaling molecule, called tumor necrosis factor, that the body produces in response to illness. They found that it caused the rats' brain stem neurons to suppress the muscle contractions required for digestion. The resulting lack of gastrointestinal activity is known to trigger nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting, explain the researchers.

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