Bacteria, bowels, brain and behaviour… there is connection!

The connection between brain and body is an ever growing area for research. New work just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has highlighted the importance of the gut in brain development. The researchers were working on the established knowledge that the microbial colonization of mammals is an evolution-driven process that influences the hosts physiology, many of which are associated with immunity and nutrient intake. The current study reports that colonization by gut microbiota impacts mammalian brain development and subsequent adult behavior. Using measures of motor activity and anxiety-like behaviour, the team demonstrated that germ free (GF) mice display increased motor activity and reduced anxiety, compared with specific pathogen free (SPF) mice with a normal gut microbiota. This behavioural characteristic is associated with altered expression of genes known to be involved with the developmental pathways implicated in motor control and anxiety-like behavior. GF mice exposed to gut microbiota early in life display similar characteristics as SPF mice. Hence, our results suggest that the microbial colonization process initiates signalling mechanisms that affect neuronal circuits involved in motor control and anxiety behavior.
This impressive work and may open the doors to the help explain how probiotic use has been associated with improved mood and behaviour in children suffering from ADAD and related behavioural issues. Its early days but this research has advanced the science closer towards a clinical application in the future.
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