Reference Number: 637
The gut microbiota – trillions of bacteria that reside within the gastrointestinal tract – have been found to not only be an essential component of immune and metabolic health, but also seems to influence the development and diseases of the enteric and central nervous system, including motility disorders, behavioural disorders, neurodegenerative disease, cerebrovascular accidents, and neuroimmune-mediated disorders. By leveraging animal models, several different pathways of communication have been identified along the “gut-brain-axis” including those driven by the immune system, the vagus nerve, or by modulation of neuroactive compounds by the microbiota. Of the latter, bacteria have been shown to produce and consume a wide range of mammalian neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Accumulating evidence in animals suggests that manipulation of these neurotransmitters by bacteria may impact host physiology, and preliminary human studies are showing that microbiota-based interventions can also alter neurotransmitter levels. Nonetheless, substantially more work is required to determine whether microbiota-mediated manipulation of human neurotransmission has any physiological implications and if so, how it may be leveraged therapeutically. In this review, this exciting route of communication along the gut-brain axis and accompanying data are discussed.
Significance to the baker: In this study, the author discusses how the microbiome may influence host physiology via the gut-brain axis. After reviewing the research on this topic, he suggests that our microbiome may influence host physiology via the production and manipulation of neurotransmitters. Though the research is nascent, the paper suggests that we may be able to leverage the gut-brain axis therapeutically to tackle diseases of the central and enteric nervous systems.