Gut-Brain-Microbiome Axis in Health and Disease
Jennifer Labus, University of California, Los Angeles
Preclinical data suggest a relationship between gut microbiota and their metabolites with brain signaling systems, as well as emotional, nociceptive, social and feeding behaviors. Bidirectional signaling occurs between the brain and the gut microbiome through multiple neural, immune, and endocrine signaling mechanisms.1-3 In the context of an emerging preclinical literature showing brain-microbiome interactions being modulated by probiotics and antibiotics, Tillisch, Labus et al. (2013) published the first evidence that probiotic consumption can modulate brain activity.4 In this talk, I will present follow-up human research exploring the gut-brain-microbiome in chronic pain and obesity (For an introduction to this topic, see 5-8). Applying systems biology approaches, I will show evidence that individuals with chronical visceral pain can be subgrouped based on microbial composition and these subgroups differ in terms of symptom duration, history of life trauma, and specific levels of neuroactive metabolites.9 I will also show that subgroups of patients based on bacterial composition differ on the grey matter volume of prefrontal and insular cortices as well as the thalamus and the basal ganglia.9 I have also shown that in healthy controls and subjects with chronic visceral pain, brain morphometry is associated with gut-derived metabolites involved in tryptophan metabolism.10 Finally I will present new research showing laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy shifts metabolite profiles in patients and this shift is associated with changes in brain structure and function. This work has great potential for understanding the role of microbes and their metabolites in health and disease and to reveal the complex interactions between the gut, brain, and microbiota. Combining large-scale neuroimaging data with metabolomic data may lead to new criteria for diagnosis based on biological markers rather than symptoms and may provide new avenues for treatment.