Intestinal Barrier and Behavior

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:127-141. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.08.006. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


The intestinal barrier function contributes to gut homeostasis by modulating absorption of water, electrolytes, and nutrients from the lumen into the circulation while restricting the passage of noxious luminal substances and microorganisms. Chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease are associated to intestinal barrier dysfunction. Here, the hypothesis is that a leaky intestinal wall allowing for indiscriminate passage of intraluminal compounds to the vascular compartment could in turn lead to systemic inflammation. An increasing number of studies are now investigating the association between gut permeability and CNS disorders, under the premise that translocation of intestinal luminal contents could affect CNS function, either directly or indirectly. Still, it is unknown whether disruption of intestinal barrier is a causative agent or a consequence in these situations. Here, we discuss the latest evidence pointing to an association between increased gut permeability and disrupted behavioral responses.

Keywords: Behavior; Gut–brain axis; Intestinal permeability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Permeability