In line with the staggering statistic that our bodies are comprised of over ten times more microbial cells than human eukaryotic cells, it is becoming increasingly appreciated that
the microbes that make up “us” play a fundamental role in regulating brain development and function, and behavior.
Microbes modulate host production of neuroactive molecules, including neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, as well as the development of complex behaviors, such as social, communicative, emotional and anxiety-like behaviors. Alterations in the composition of the microbial communities that inhabit us are further implicated in a variety of neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis, depression and autism.
Situated at the interface of neurobiology, immunology and microbiology, we are using integrative systems approaches to study fundamental questions in biology:
- What are the effects of the microbiota on the nervous system?
- How do resident microbes communicate with the nervous system?
- Which individual species or communities confer particular functional effects?
- How do microbe-nervous system interactions impact health and disease?
- What might be the evolutionary benefit for microbes to interact with the nervous system?
Overall, that microbes have the remarkable capacity to modulate neural activity and complex behaviors suggests that rational modification of the gut microbiota can serve as a tractable strategy for treating complex nervous system disorders.
Yano JM, Yu K, Donaldson G, Shastri G, Ma L, Ann P, Nagler C, Ismagilov RF, Mazmanian SK, Hsiao EY (2015) Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis. Cell, doi 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.047.
Hsiao EY, McBride SW, Hsien S, Sharon G, Hyde ER, McCue T, Codelli JA, Chow J, Reisman SE, Petrosino JF, Patterson PH*, Mazmanian SK* (2013) The microbiota modulates behavioral and physiological abnormalities associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Cell, 155:1451-1463. *equal contribution
Highlighted in: Cell 155:1446-8, PNAS 111:2051-3, Nature Reviews Neurology 10:60, Nature Reviews Microbiology 12:76-7, Dr. Tom Insel, NIMH , Top 10 Autism Research Achievement of 2013 by Autism Speaks
Hsiao EY (2014) Gastrointestinal issues in autism spectrum disorder. Harv Rev Psychiatry 22:104-111.
Hsiao EY (2013) Immune dysregulation in autism spectrum disorder. In Konopka G, Harris A, Jenner P (Eds). Neurobiology of Autism, Int Rev Neurobiol 113:269-302.