enteric nervous system
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to enteric nervous system: vagus nerve
enteric nervous system,
A division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) arising from its own line of neural crest cells and composed of the tens of millions of neurons and their supporting cells inside the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and gallbladder. Although the enteric nervous system is innervated (and modulated) by sympathetic and parasympathetic axons from the other divisions of the ANS, the enteric nervous system also acts independently. Reflex activities (e.g., maintaining gut wall tension and producing peristalsis) are initiated and coordinated via networks entirely inside the gut walls and organized via complex intrinsic ganglionated neural networks of two kinds: Auerbach's plexus and the submucous (Meissner's and Henle's) plexus lying between the circular and muscularis mucosae muscle layers.