, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 403-414
Date: 18 May 2013

The role of gut microbiota in the gut-brain axis: current challenges and perspectives

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Abstract

Brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are intimately connected to form a bidirectional neurohumoral communication system. The communication between gut and brain, knows as the gut-brain axis, is so well established that the functional status of gut is always related to the condition of brain. The researches on the gut-brain axis were traditionally focused on the psychological status affecting the function of the GI tract. However, recent evidences showed that gut microbiota communicates with the brain via the gut-brain axis to modulate brain development and behavioral phenotypes. These recent findings on the new role of gut microbiota in the gut-brain axis implicate that gut microbiota could associate with brain functions as well as neurological diseases via the gut-brain axis. To elucidate the role of gut microbiota in the gut-brain axis, precise identification of the composition of microbes constituting gut microbiota is an essential step. However, identification of microbes constituting gut microbiota has been the main technological challenge currently due to massive amount of intestinal microbes and the difficulties in culture of gut microbes. Current methods for identification of microbes constituting gut microbiota are dependent on omics analysis methods by using advanced high tech equipment. Here, we review the association of gut microbiota with the gut-brain axis, including the pros and cons of the current high throughput methods for identification of microbes constituting gut microbiota to elucidate the role of gut microbiota in the gut-brain axis.

These authors contributed equally to the work.