Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 211–217 | Cite as

Do Obese Bacteria Make us “Want them”? Intestinal Microbiota, Mesocorticolimbic Circuit and Non-Homeostatic Feeding

  • Jocelyn Urrutia-Piñones
  • Javiera Illanes-González
  • Alejandra López-Aguilera
  • Marcela Julio-PieperEmail author
  • Javier A. BravoEmail author
Brain and Microbiome (S O‘Mahony, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Brain and Microbiome


Purpose of Review

Highly palatable foods (HPF) have rewarding effects, and their consumption induces gut dysbiosis. Because intestinal microbes communicate bidirectionally with the brain, we reviewed the literature in order to link the effects of HPF on the brain reward system and on gut microbiota. Additionally, we propose these alterations contribute to the pathophysiology of obesity.

Recent Findings

Non-homeostatic consumption of HPF programs the brain to seek these foods from early-life. Fatty food induces gut dysbiosis, which might alter communications to the brain. Additionally, prebiotic fibre and short-chain fatty acids affect the neurochemistry of the rodent mesocorticolimbic circuit.


Consumption of HPF might start a vicious cycle by (1) activating the mesocorticolimbic circuit, leading to (2) non-homeostatic feeding, affecting the host’s metabolism and (3) altering gut microbes. The latter might impact the brain’s reward system, which becomes reinforced by signals from gut symbionts, thus contributing to the pathophysiology of obesity.


Mesocorticolimbic system Reward Gut microbiota Dopamine Obesity 



This work was supported by FONDECYT no. 1140776 and no. 1181019, IDRC.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jocelyn Urrutia-Piñones
    • 1
  • Javiera Illanes-González
    • 1
  • Alejandra López-Aguilera
    • 1
  • Marcela Julio-Pieper
    • 1
    Email author
  • Javier A. Bravo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Grupo de NeuroGastroBioquímica, Laboratorio de Química Biológica y Bioquímica de Sistemas, Instituto de Química, Facultad de CienciasPontificia Universidad Católica de ValparaísoValparaísoChile

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