From Probiotics to Psychobiotics: Live Beneficial Bacteria Which Act on the Brain-Gut Axis

Nutrients. 2019 Apr 20;11(4):890. doi: 10.3390/nu11040890.


There is an important relationship between probiotics, psychobiotics and cognitive and behavioral processes, which include neurological, metabolic, hormonal and immunological signaling pathways; the alteration in these systems may cause alterations in behavior (mood) and cognitive level (learning and memory). Psychobiotics have been considered key elements in affective disorders and the immune system, in addition to their effect encompassing the regulation of neuroimmune regulation and control axes (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or HPA, the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis or SAM and the inflammatory reflex) in diseases of the nervous system. The aim of this review is to summarize the recent findings about psychobiotics, the brain-gut axis and the immune system. The review focuses on a very new and interesting field that relates the microbiota of the intestine with diseases of the nervous system and its possible treatment, in neuroimmunomodulation area. Indeed, although probiotic bacteria will be concentrated after ingestion, mainly in the intestinal epithelium (where they provide the host with essential nutrients and modulation of the immune system), they may also produce neuroactive substances which act on the brain-gut axis.

Keywords: beneficial bacteria; human health; microbiota; probiotics; psychobiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Brain*
  • Cognition
  • Enteric Nervous System
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Mood Disorders / metabolism
  • Mood Disorders / microbiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases / microbiology*
  • Neuroimmunomodulation*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System
  • Probiotics*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents