The new link between gut-brain axis and neuropsychiatric disorders

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Sep;14(5):477-82. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32834936e7.


Purpose of review: Although the cause of most neuropsychiatric disorders remains uncertain, new data offer alternative explanations warranting further validations. This review summarizes some recent findings that may localize the origin of eating disorders as well as some other neuropsychiatric disorders outside the brain and discuss their cause as a possible dysfunction of the gut-brain axis involving the humoral immune system.

Recent findings: The gut microbiota has been identified as the main source of highest biological variability confined in an individual and also provides constant antigenic stimulation shaping up the physiological immune response. Furthermore, molecular mimicry has been shown among microbial proteins including gut microbiota and several key neuropeptides involved in the regulation of motivated behavior and emotion. Immunoglobulins reactive with these neuropeptides have been identified in humans, and their levels or affinities were associated with neuropsychiatric conditions including anxiety, depression, eating and sleep disorders.

Summary: Cross-reacting immunoglobulins may bind both microbial sequences and neuropeptides, thereby constituting a particular way of signaling between the gut and the brain. Alteration of this link may contribute to several neuropsychiatric disorders, emphasizing the key role of nutrition among other factors influencing gut content and intestinal permeability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Molecular Mimicry
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Neuropeptides