During childhood, our brain is exposed to a variety of environmental inputs that can sculpt synaptic connections and neuronal circuits, with subsequent influence on behavior and learning processes. Critical periods of neurodevelopment are windows of opportunity in which the neuronal circuits are extremely plastic and can be easily subjected to remodeling in response to experience. However, the brain is also more susceptible to aberrant stimuli that might lead to altered developmental trajectories. Intriguingly, postnatal brain development is paralleled by the maturation of the gut microbiota: the ecosystem of symbionts populating our gastro-intestinal tract. Recent discoveries have started to unveil an unexpected link between the gut microbiome and neurophysiological processes. Indeed, the commensal bacteria seem to be able to influence host behavioral outcome and neurochemistry through mechanisms which remain poorly understood. Remarkably, the efficacy of the gut flora action appears to be dependent on the timing during postnatal life at which the host gut microbes' signals reaches the brain, suggesting the fascinating possibility of critical periods for this microbiota-driven shaping of host neuronal functions and behavior. Therefore, to understand the importance of the intestinal ecosystem's impact on neuronal circuits functions and plasticity during development and the discovery of the involved molecular mechanisms, will pave the way to identify new and, hopefully, powerful microbiota-based therapeutic interventions for the treatment of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diseases.

Gut microbiota: A potential regulator of neurodevelopment

Tognini P.
2017-01-01

Abstract

During childhood, our brain is exposed to a variety of environmental inputs that can sculpt synaptic connections and neuronal circuits, with subsequent influence on behavior and learning processes. Critical periods of neurodevelopment are windows of opportunity in which the neuronal circuits are extremely plastic and can be easily subjected to remodeling in response to experience. However, the brain is also more susceptible to aberrant stimuli that might lead to altered developmental trajectories. Intriguingly, postnatal brain development is paralleled by the maturation of the gut microbiota: the ecosystem of symbionts populating our gastro-intestinal tract. Recent discoveries have started to unveil an unexpected link between the gut microbiome and neurophysiological processes. Indeed, the commensal bacteria seem to be able to influence host behavioral outcome and neurochemistry through mechanisms which remain poorly understood. Remarkably, the efficacy of the gut flora action appears to be dependent on the timing during postnatal life at which the host gut microbes' signals reaches the brain, suggesting the fascinating possibility of critical periods for this microbiota-driven shaping of host neuronal functions and behavior. Therefore, to understand the importance of the intestinal ecosystem's impact on neuronal circuits functions and plasticity during development and the discovery of the involved molecular mechanisms, will pave the way to identify new and, hopefully, powerful microbiota-based therapeutic interventions for the treatment of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diseases.
2017
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11382/562780
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