Feeding the microbiota-gut-brain axis: diet, microbiome, and neuropsychiatry

Transl Res. 2017 Jan:179:223-244. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2016.10.002. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


The microbial population residing within the human gut represents one of the most densely populated microbial niche in the human body with growing evidence showing it playing a key role in the regulation of behavior and brain function. The bidirectional communication between the gut microbiota and the brain, the microbiota-gut-brain axis, occurs through various pathways including the vagus nerve, the immune system, neuroendocrine pathways, and bacteria-derived metabolites. This axis has been shown to influence neurotransmission and the behavior that are often associated with neuropsychiatric conditions. Therefore, research targeting the modulation of this gut microbiota as a novel therapy for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric conditions is gaining interest. Numerous factors have been highlighted to influence gut microbiota composition, including genetics, health status, mode of birth, and environment. However, it is diet composition and nutritional status that has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most critical modifiable factors regulating the gut microbiota at different time points across the lifespan and under various health conditions. Thus the microbiota is poised to play a key role in nutritional interventions for maintaining brain health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Neuropsychiatry*