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The brain-gut axis allows bidirectional communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS), linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions. Recent experimental work suggests that the gut microbiota have an impact on the brain-gut axis. A group of experts convened by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) discussed the role of gut bacteria on brain functions and the implications for probiotic and prebiotic science. The experts reviewed and discussed current available data on the role of gut microbiota on epithelial cell function, gastrointestinal motility, visceral sensitivity, perception and behavior. Data, mostly gathered from animal studies, suggest interactions of gut microbiota not only with the enteric nervous system but also with the central nervous system via neural, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and humoral links. Microbial colonization impacts mammalian brain development in early life and subsequent adult behavior. These findings provide novel insights for improved understanding of the potential role of gut microbial communities on psychological disorders, most particularly in the field of psychological comorbidities associated with functional bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and should present new opportunity for interventions with pro- and prebiotics.


Delphine M Saulnier, Yehuda Ringel, Melvin B Heyman, Jane A Foster, Premysl Bercik, Robert J Shulman, James Versalovic, Elena F Verdu, Ted G Dinan, Gail Hecht, Francisco Guarner. The intestinal microbiome, probiotics and prebiotics in neurogastroenterology. Gut microbes. 2013 Jan-Feb;4(1):17-27

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PMID: 23202796

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