The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Intestinal Inflammation and Psychological Disorders

Jolene Addi and Dr Sarah Hird, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, 91 N Eagleville Rd, Storrs, CT 06269

The microbiota-gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication between our brain and microbes via the nervous, endocrine, and immune pathways. Signals along the axis can arise from the gut, brain or both, maintaining normal gut function and appropriate behavior. The disruption of the gut microbiota, or “gut dysbiosis”, is influenced by host genetics, diet, antibiotics, and inflammation. There has been a surge of research focused on developing new therapeutic strategies to treat psychiatric disorders by targeting the gut microbiota; for this project, I performed a literature review to summarize those findings. There is a clear association of dysbiosis with disease, with particular focus on functional bowel disorders and their relationship to psychological stress. Our enteric nervous system, also known as our second brain, is a network of mini microglia along the intestinal wall, and it communicates with the vagus nerve by transducing the molecules from our food into neurotransmitters. Current methods to promote optimal functioning of the gut-brain axis include fecal microbiota transplantation, probiotics, prebiotics, healthy diet, and lifestyle. In the last few decades, the number of patients with mental disorders and neurological diseases has increased rapidly, causing an escalation of medical burden. There is still much research to be done amongst the enteric nervous system and how directly or indirectly it works with other pathways. Probiotics, prebiotics, and intervention of diet therapy may help heal the gut of people with physical and psychological ailments, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is concluded that there is promising evidence to support that the microbiome plays an important role in the immunological pathophysiology of mental disorders, including psychiatric and mood disorders. Further clinical and in vivo studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the link between nutrition, gut microbiota, and control of behavior and mental health.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Jolene Addi

Institution: University of Connecticut

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6665