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Trillions of bacteria reside within our gastrointestinal tract, ideally forming a mutually beneficial relationship between us. However, persistent changes in diet and lifestyle in the western diet and lifestyle contribute to a damaging of the gut microbiota-host symbiosis leading to diseases such as obesity and irritable bowel syndrome. Many symptoms and comorbidities associated with these diseases stem from dysfunctional signaling in peripheral neurons. Our peripheral nervous system (PNS) is comprised of a variety of sensory, autonomic, and enteric neurons which coordinate key homeostatic functions such as gastrointestinal motility, digestion, immunity, feeding behavior, glucose and lipid homeostasis, and more. The composition and signaling of bacteria in our gut dramatically influences how our peripheral neurons regulate these functions, and we are just beginning to uncover the molecular mechanisms mediating this communication. In this review, we cover the general anatomy and function of the PNS, and then we discuss how the molecules secreted or stimulated by gut microbes signal through the PNS to alter host development and physiology. Finally, we discuss how leveraging the power of our gut microbes on peripheral nervous system signaling may offer effective therapies to counteract the rise in chronic diseases crippling the western world.


Tyler M Cook, Virginie Mansuy-Aubert. Communication between the gut microbiota and peripheral nervous system in health and chronic disease. Gut microbes. 2022 Jan-Dec;14(1):2068365

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PMID: 35482894

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