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Neurotherapeutics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 31–35 | Cite as

The Microbiome–Gut–Behavior Axis: Crosstalk Between the Gut Microbiome and Oligodendrocytes Modulates Behavioral Responses

  • Achilles Ntranos
  • Patrizia Casaccia
Review

Abstract

Environmental and dietary stimuli have always been implicated in brain development and behavioral responses. The gut, being the major portal of communication with the external environment, has recently been brought to the forefront of this interaction with the establishment of a gut–brain axis in health and disease. Moreover, recent breakthroughs in germ-free and antibiotic-treated mice have demonstrated the significant impact of the microbiome in modulating behavioral responses in mice and have established a more specific microbiome–gut–behavior axis. One of the mechanisms by which this axis affects social behavior is by regulating myelination at the prefrontal cortex, an important site for complex cognitive behavior planning and decision-making. The prefrontal cortex exhibits late myelination of its axonal projections that could extend into the third decade of life in humans, which make it susceptible to external influences, such as microbial metabolites. Changes in the gut microbiome were shown to alter the composition of the microbial metabolome affecting highly permeable bioactive compounds, such as p-cresol, which could impair oligodendrocyte differentiation. Dysregulated myelination in the prefrontal cortex is then able to affect behavioral responses in mice, shifting them towards social isolation. The reduced social interactions could then limit microbial exchange, which could otherwise pose a threat to the survival of the existing microbial community in the host and, thus, provide an evolutionary advantage to the specific microbial community. In this review, we will analyze the microbiome–gut–behavior axis, describe the interactions between the gut microbiome and oligodendrocytes and highlight their role in the modulation of social behavior.

Key Words

Gut microbiome • myelin plasticity • social behavior • metabolites • oligodendrocytes • prefrontal cortex 

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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis, Department of NeurologyIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Neuroscience InitiativeCUNY Advanced Science Research CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeuroscienceIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA

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