Perinatal Interactions between the Microbiome, Immunity, and Neurodevelopment

Immunity. 2019 Jan 15;50(1):18-36. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2018.11.016.


The microbiome modulates host immune function across the gastrointestinal tract, peripheral lymphoid organs, and central nervous system. In this review, we highlight emerging evidence that microbial effects on select immune phenotypes arise developmentally, where the maternal and neonatal microbiome influence immune cell ontogeny in the offspring during gestation and early postnatal life. We further discuss roles for the perinatal microbiome and early-life immunity in regulating normal neurodevelopmental processes. In addition, we examine evidence that abnormalities in microbiota-neuroimmune interactions during early life are associated with altered risk of neurological disorders in humans. Finally, we conclude by evaluating the potential implications of microbiota-immune interventions for neurological conditions. Continued progress toward dissecting mechanistic interactions between the perinatal microbiota, immune system, and nervous system might uncover fundamental insights into how developmental interactions across physiological systems inform later-life health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / embryology*
  • Immune System / microbiology
  • Immunity
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Nervous System / microbiology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Perinatal Care
  • Pregnancy