Microbes and Oxytocin: Benefits for Host Physiology and Behavior

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016:131:91-126. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.07.004. Epub 2016 Sep 13.


It is now understood that gut bacteria exert effects beyond the local boundaries of the gastrointestinal tract to include distant tissues and overall health. Prototype probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri has been found to upregulate hormone oxytocin and systemic immune responses to achieve a wide array of health benefits involving wound healing, mental health, metabolism, and myoskeletal maintenance. Together these display that the gut microbiome and host animal interact via immune-endocrine-brain signaling networks. Such findings provide novel therapeutic strategies to stimulate powerful homeostatic pathways and genetic programs, stemming from the coevolution of mammals and their microbiome.

Keywords: Behavior; Lactobacillus reuteri; Neuropsychiatric disorders; Obesity; Oxytocin; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / microbiology
  • Mental Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Obesity* / microbiology
  • Obesity* / prevention & control
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*


  • Oxytocin