How gut microbes talk to organs: The role of endocrine and nervous routes

Mol Metab. 2016 May 27;5(9):743-52. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2016.05.011. eCollection 2016 Sep.


Background: Changes in gut microbiota composition and activity have been associated with different metabolic disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiometabolic disorders. Recent evidence suggests that different organs are directly under the influence of bacterial metabolites that may directly or indirectly regulate physiological and pathological processes.

Scope of review: We reviewed seminal as well as recent papers showing that gut microbes influence energy, glucose and lipid homeostasis by controlling different metabolic routes such as endocrine, enteric and central nervous system. These dialogues are discussed in the context of obesity and diabetes but also for brain pathologies and neurodegenerative disorders.

Major conclusions: The recent advances in gut microbiota investigation as well as the discovery of specific metabolites interacting with host cells has led to the identification of novel inter-organ communication during metabolic disturbances. This suggests that gut microbes may be viewed as "novel" future therapeutic partners. This article is part of a special issue on microbiota.

Keywords: Central nervous system; Enteric nervous system; Enteroendocrine cells; Gut microbiota; Immune system; Metabolites.

Publication types

  • Review