The microbiota-gut-brain axis in functional gastrointestinal disorders

Gut Microbes. May-Jun 2014;5(3):419-29. doi: 10.4161/gmic.29417. Epub 2014 Jun 12.


Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are highly prevalent and pose a significant burden on health care and society, and impact patients' quality of life. FGIDs comprise a heterogeneous group of disorders, with unclear underlying pathophysiology. They are considered to result from the interaction of altered gut physiology and psychological factors via the gut-brain axis, where brain and gut symptoms are reciprocally influencing each other's expression. Intestinal microbiota, as a part of the gut-brain axis, plays a central role in FGIDs. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a prototype of FGIDs, display altered composition of the gut microbiota compared with healthy controls and benefit, at the gastrointestinal and psychological levels, from the use of probiotics and antibiotics. This review aims to recapitulate the available literature on FGIDs and microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Keywords: IBS; anxiety; depression; functional gastrointestinal disorders; gut-brain axis; microbiota.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Prevalence