In the last 5 years, interest in the interactions among the gut microbiome, brain, and behavior has exploded. Preclinical evidence supports a role of the gut microbiome in behavioral responses associated with pain, emotion, social interactions, and food intake. Limited, but growing, clinical evidence comes primarily from associations of gut microbial composition and function to behavioral and clinical features and brain structure and function. Converging evidence suggests that the brain and the gut microbiota are in bidirectional communication. Observed dysbiotic states in depression, chronic stress, and autism may reflect altered brain signaling to the gut, while altered gut microbial signaling to the brain may play a role in reinforcing brain alterations. On the other hand, primary dysbiotic states due to Western diets may signal to the brain, altering ingestive behavior. While studies performed in patients with depression and rodent models generated by fecal microbial transfer from such patients suggest causation, evidence for an influence of acute gut microbial alterations on human behavioral and clinical parameters is lacking. Only recently has an open-label microbial transfer therapy in children with autism tentatively validated the gut microbiota as a therapeutic target. The translational potential of preclinical findings remains unclear without further clinical investigation.
© 2017 Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG, Basel.