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The gastrointestinal tract and its associated mucosal immune system have been extensively studied in the context of their involvement in disease processes, both within the tract itself and in its associated organs. However, historically a number of aspects of both gastrointestinal physiology and pathophysiology have been to some extent overlooked. In particular, the relationship of the gastrointestinal tract with its indigenous microbiota, and also the influence of the tract on behavior and neural systems and vice versa. Here, we describe recent advances in our knowledge and understanding of these areas, and attempt to put these advances in perspective with regard to potential therapeutic strategies.
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