Do your gut microbes affect your brain dopamine?

  • Camila González-Arancibia
  • Jocelyn Urrutia-Piñones
  • Javiera Illanes-González
  • Jonathan Martinez-Pinto
  • Ramón Sotomayor-Zárate
  • Marcela Julio-Pieper
  • Javier A. BravoEmail author


Increasing evidence shows changes in gut microbiota composition in association with psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. Moreover, it has been reported that perturbations in gut microbe diversity and richness influence serotonergic, GABAergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic neurotransmission. Among these, dopamine is regarded as a main regulator of cognitive functions such as decision making, attention, memory, motivation, and reward. In this work, we will highlight findings that link alterations in intestinal microbiota and dopaminergic neurotransmission, with a particular emphasis on the mesocorticolimbic circuit, which is involved in reward to natural reinforcers, as well as abuse substances. For this, we reviewed evidence from studies carried out on germ-free animals, or in rodents subjected to intestinal dysbiosis using antibiotics, and also through the use of probiotics. All this evidence strongly supports that the microbiota-gut-brain axis is key to the physiopathology of several neuropsychiatric disorders involving those where dopaminergic neurotransmission is compromised. In addition, the gut microbiota appears as a key player when it comes to proposing novel strategies to the treatment of these psychiatric conditions.


Gut microbiota Dopamine Dopamine receptor 1 Mesocorticolimbic circuit 



This work was supported by FONDECYT Grants #1140776 and #1190729 to J.A.B, #1160398 to R.S-Z and #1181019 to M.J-P. IDRC. C.G-A, J.U-P, and J.I-P are recipients of graduate fellowship “Beca de Doctorado Nacional” from CONICYT.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camila González-Arancibia
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jocelyn Urrutia-Piñones
    • 1
    • 3
  • Javiera Illanes-González
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jonathan Martinez-Pinto
    • 2
  • Ramón Sotomayor-Zárate
    • 2
  • Marcela Julio-Pieper
    • 1
  • 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
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Neuroquímica y Neurofarmacología, Centro de Neurobiología y Fisiopatología Integrativa, Instituto de Fisiología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  3. 3.Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias mención Neurociencia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile

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