The Neuroendocrinology of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: A Behavioural Perspective

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2018 Oct;51:80-101. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2018.04.002. Epub 2018 May 16.


The human gut harbours trillions of symbiotic bacteria that play a key role in programming different aspects of host physiology in health and disease. These intestinal microbes are also key components of the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication pathway between the gut and the central nervous system (CNS). In addition, the CNS is closely interconnected with the endocrine system to regulate many physiological processes. An expanding body of evidence is supporting the notion that gut microbiota modifications and/or manipulations may also play a crucial role in the manifestation of specific behavioural responses regulated by neuroendocrine pathways. In this review, we will focus on how the intestinal microorganisms interact with elements of the host neuroendocrine system to modify behaviours relevant to stress, eating behaviour, sexual behaviour, social behaviour, cognition and addiction.

Keywords: Addiction; Corticosterone; Eating behaviour; HPA axis; Hormones; Learning; Neuroendocrine system; Sexual behaviour; Social behaviour; Stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive* / metabolism
  • Behavior, Addictive* / physiopathology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stress, Psychological* / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological* / physiopathology