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Organizers: John Hambor (Boehringer Ingelheim), Sarkis Mazmanian (California Institute of Technology), Nilufer Seth (Pfizer), Erick Young (Boehringer Ingelheim), Sonya Dougal (The New York Academy of Sciences), and Caitlin McOmish (The New York Academy of Sciences)Presented by the Microbiome Science Discussion Group
Reported by Hannah Rice | Posted May 26, 2016
On March 15, 2016, the Academy's Microbiome Science Discussion Group convened researchers for Advances in Human Microbiome Science: Gut–Brain Interaction, the second of three symposia on the causal relationships between microbiota and disease—this one focused on the microbiome–gut–brain axis. Commensal human colon microbiota are integral to numerous functions that maintain health. While research on these organisms has traditionally focused on disorders of the gut, there is growing interest in their connection to the central nervous system (CNS). The interconnectedness of the gut and the brain—the association between dysregulation of the gut microbiome and psychiatric disorders, neurodegeneration, and impaired brain development, for example—raises the possibility of targeting the microbiome to treat neurological diseases. The meeting featured presentations by scientists studying the gastrointestinal system and the brain and a panel discussion on translating discoveries into therapeutics.
"Friends with brain benefits" was the description John Cryan of University College Cork gave gut microbiota in his talk on microbial regulation of neural function. He discussed the intriguing links between stress, microbiota, brain health, and aging. Maternal separation is a well-defined mouse model of anxiety and depression; it also exhibits gastrointestinal symptoms of gut inflammation, elevated proinflammatory cytokines, gut-barrier permeability, and increased colonic transit. Indeed, the model is used to study both depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In another animal model of anxiety, prenatal stress produces heightened stress responses and a low-diversity microbiome in adult mice. In humans, maternal stress alters the infant microbiome, which may also be affected by Cesarean section, formula feeding, maternal infection, and antibiotic use. In older adults, stress is associated with proinflammatory immune responses, a hallmark of aging, and changes in gut-barrier function, along with cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, and social isolation. Health in older adults correlates with a diverse gut microbiome, which is strongly associated with diet./.../