The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Nov;10(11):735-42. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2876. Epub 2012 Sep 24.


The intestinal microbiota consists of a vast bacterial community that resides primarily in the lower gut and lives in a symbiotic relationship with the host. A bidirectional neurohumoral communication system, known as the gut-brain axis, integrates the host gut and brain activities. Here, we describe the recent advances in our understanding of how the intestinal microbiota communicates with the brain via this axis to influence brain development and behaviour. We also review how this extended communication system might influence a broad spectrum of diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, psychiatric disorders and demyelinating conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Enteric Nervous System / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Multiple Sclerosis / microbiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stress, Physiological*