Enteric Neurobiology Lab

"Understanding the assembly and maintenance of the second brain"

Prof. dr. Werend Boesmans

Enteric nervous system
Gut-brain axis
Live cell microscopy

+32 (0) 11 26 91 65

Orcid ID


By focusing at the interface between gut physiology and developmental neurobiology we investigate the patterning and communication within the enteric nervous system, the gut brain. A common theme in our lab is to understand the role of enteric glial cells and faulty intestinal nerve circuits in the transition from gastrointestinal homeostasis to digestive diseases, cancer and brain disorders. To this end a variety of live cell imaging techniques (https://www.uhasselt.be/aomc) is combined with several in vitro and in vivo models and advanced genetic and molecular tools. Our lab is partially based at Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+, The Netherlands) where we join forces with the group of Dr. Veerle Melotte.


  1. Glia of the bowel - landscapers in the second brain (NWO-Vidi 2019: 016.196.367/ZonMw)

  2. Coordination of intrinsic neural network connectivity in the gut by enteric glial DISC1 (FWO: G036320N)

  3. Collen-Francqui Start-up Grant 2021

  4. Gut-organ axes in health and disease (FWO research network - WOG, spokesperson)

Lab Members


Key Publications

  1. Boesmans W*, Lasrado R*, et al. Heterogeneity and phenotypic plasticity of glial cells in the mammalian enteric nervous system. Glia, 63 (2): 229-241, 2015. * equal contribution. (IF: 6.031) DOI: 10.1002/glia.22746
  2. Lasrado R, Boesmans W, et al. Lineage-dependent spatial and functional organization of the mammalian enteric nervous system. Science, 356 (6339): 722-726, 2017. (IF: 41.058) DOI: 10.1126/science.aam7511
  3. Boesmans W, Hao MM, Vanden Berghe P. Optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques in enteric neurogastroenterology. Nature Reviews Gastroenterologgy & Hepatology, 15(1):21-38, 2018 (IF: 23.570) DOI: 10.1038/nrgastro.2017.151
  4. Li ZL, …, Boesmans W*, Vanden Berghe P*. Regional complexity in enteric neuron wiring reflects diversity of motility patterns in the mouse large intestine. eLife. 8.pii: e42914, 2019. * corresponding authors. (IF: 7.08) DOI: 10.7554/eLife.42914
  5. Holland AM, Bon-Frauches AC, Keszthelyi D, Melotte V, Boesmans W. The enteric nervous system in gastrointestinal disease etiology. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 78(10):4713-4733, 2021 (IF: 9.261) DOI: 10.1007/s00018-021-03812-y

A complete list of our publications can be found here