How Gut Metabolites can Shape Brain Activity


 News Release, International Society of Microbiota, France - February 23, 2022

A major site of exposure to environmental molecules is the gastrointestinal tract, in which dietary components are chemically transformed by the microbiota and gut-derived metabolites are disseminated to all organs, including the brain. In mice, the gut microbiota impacts behaviour, modulates neurotransmitter production in the gut and brain and influences brain development and myelination patterns. The mechanisms that mediate the gut–brain interactions remain poorly defined, although they broadly involve humoral or neuronal connections.

The Authors previously reported that the levels of the microbial metabolite 4-ethylphenyl sulfate (4EPS) were increased in a mouse model of atypical neurodevelopment.

Here Mark S. Ladinsky, identified biosynthetic genes from the gut microbiome that mediate the conversion of dietary tyrosine to 4-ethylphenol (4EP), and bioengineered gut bacteria to selectively produce 4EPS in mice. 4EPS entered the brain and was associated with changes in region-specific activity and functional connectivity. Gene expression signatures revealed altered oligodendrocyte function in the brain, and 4EPS impaired oligodendrocyte maturation in mice and decreased oligodendrocyte–neuron interactions in ex vivo brain cultures. Mice colonized with 4EP-producing bacteria exhibited reduced myelination of neuronal axons. Altered myelination dynamics in the brain have been associated with behavioural outcomes.

Accordingly, they observed that mice exposed to 4EPS displayed anxiety-like behaviours, and pharmacological treatments that promote oligodendrocyte differentiation prevented the behavioural effects of 4EPS. These findings reveal that a gut-derived molecule influences complex behaviours in mice through effects on oligodendrocyte function and myelin patterning in the brain.

Targeting Microbiota 2022 will dedicate a whole session for Brain, Behaviour, Ageing and Microbiota. 

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Targeting Microbiota 2022 Congress
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