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      Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour

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      Nature Reviews Neuroscience

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Recent years have witnessed the rise of the gut microbiota as a major topic of research interest in biology. Studies are revealing how variations and changes in the composition of the gut microbiota influence normal physiology and contribute to diseases ranging from inflammation to obesity. Accumulating data now indicate that the gut microbiota also communicates with the CNS--possibly through neural, endocrine and immune pathways--and thereby influences brain function and behaviour. Studies in germ-free animals and in animals exposed to pathogenic bacterial infections, probiotic bacteria or antibiotic drugs suggest a role for the gut microbiota in the regulation of anxiety, mood, cognition and pain. Thus, the emerging concept of a microbiota-gut-brain axis suggests that modulation of the gut microbiota may be a tractable strategy for developing novel therapeutics for complex CNS disorders.

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          Most cited references 72

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          Individuality in gut microbiota composition is a complex polygenic trait shaped by multiple environmental and host genetic factors.

          In vertebrates, including humans, individuals harbor gut microbial communities whose species composition and relative proportions of dominant microbial groups are tremendously varied. Although external and stochastic factors clearly contribute to the individuality of the microbiota, the fundamental principles dictating how environmental factors and host genetic factors combine to shape this complex ecosystem are largely unknown and require systematic study. Here we examined factors that affect microbiota composition in a large (n = 645) mouse advanced intercross line originating from a cross between C57BL/6J and an ICR-derived outbred line (HR). Quantitative pyrosequencing of the microbiota defined a core measurable microbiota (CMM) of 64 conserved taxonomic groups that varied quantitatively across most animals in the population. Although some of this variation can be explained by litter and cohort effects, individual host genotype had a measurable contribution. Testing of the CMM abundances for cosegregation with 530 fully informative SNP markers identified 18 host quantitative trait loci (QTL) that show significant or suggestive genome-wide linkage with relative abundances of specific microbial taxa. These QTL affect microbiota composition in three ways; some loci control individual microbial species, some control groups of related taxa, and some have putative pleiotropic effects on groups of distantly related organisms. These data provide clear evidence for the importance of host genetic control in shaping individual microbiome diversity in mammals, a key step toward understanding the factors that govern the assemblages of gut microbiota associated with complex diseases.
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            Proinflammatory T-cell responses to gut microbiota promote experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

            Although the effects of commensal bacteria on intestinal immune development seem to be profound, it remains speculative whether the gut microbiota influences extraintestinal biological functions. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating autoimmune disease leading to progressive deterioration of neurological function. Although the cause of MS is unknown, microorganisms seem to be important for the onset and/or progression of disease. However, it is unclear how microbial colonization, either symbiotic or infectious, affects autoimmunity. Herein, we investigate a role for the microbiota during the induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for MS. Mice maintained under germ-free conditions develop significantly attenuated EAE compared with conventionally colonized mice. Germ-free animals, induced for EAE, produce lower levels of the proinflammatory cytokines IFN-γ and IL-17A in both the intestine and spinal cord but display a reciprocal increase in CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs). Mechanistically, we show that gut dendritic cells from germ-free animals are reduced in the ability to stimulate proinflammatory T cell responses. Intestinal colonization with segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) is known to promote IL-17 production in the gut; here, we show that SFBs also induced IL-17A-producing CD4(+) T cells (Th17) in the CNS. Remarkably, germ-free animals harboring SFBs alone developed EAE, showing that gut bacteria can affect neurologic inflammation. These findings reveal that the intestinal microbiota profoundly impacts the balance between pro- and antiinflammatory immune responses during EAE and suggest that modulation of gut bacteria may provide therapeutic targets for extraintestinal inflammatory diseases such as MS.
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              An insular view of anxiety.

              We propose a general hypothesis that integrates affective and cognitive processing with neuroanatomy to explain anxiety pronenes. The premise is that individuals who are prone to anxiety show an altered interoceptive prediction signal, i.e., manifest augmented detection of the difference between the observed and expected body state. As a consequence, the increased prediction signal of a prospective aversive body state triggers an increase in anxious affect, worrisome thoughts and other avoidance behaviors. The anterior insula is proposed to play a key role in this process. Further testing of this model--which should include investigation of genetic and environmental influences--may lead to the development of novel treatments that attenuate this altered interoceptive prediction signal in patients with anxiety disorders.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                October 2012
                September 12 2012
                October 2012
                : 13
                : 10
                : 701-712
                Article
                10.1038/nrn3346
                22968153
                © 2012

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