Skip navigation

Microbiota-driven Transcriptional Changes in Prefrontal Cortex Override Genetic Differences in Social Behavior

eLife, 2016, Gacias et al

Berg’s OMICS platform supports a link between gut metabolomic alterations and neurological function in collaboration with Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Authors: Gacias M, Gaspari S, Santos PM, Tamburini S, Andrade M, Zhang F, Shen N, Tolstikov V, Kiebish MA, Dupree JL, Zachariou V, Clemente JC, Casaccia P

Gene-environment interactions impact the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, anxiety, and depression, but the contributions of each to disease progression are unclear. Bacteria and other micro-organisms exist in our environment and also live within our bodies where they work to help digest food and perform other bodily functions. There is growing evidence that gut bacteria can influence mental health, however, the mechanism is unknown. In this study, we identified gut bacteria that promotes an increase in the metabolite cresol, which induces depressive-like behavior in mice by impairing myelin function. Stress-induced depressive-like behavior in mice was reversed by treatment with antibiotics given orally. In the brain region implicated in playing a role in the pathology of depression, stress induced a reduction in several myelin-related genes in the mice that was reversed by antibiotic treatment. Berg’s metabolomics platform profiled gut tissue from mice transplanted with bacteria from non-treated mice showed high amounts of cresol, compared with control experiments. Cresol caused a reduction in expression of myelin-related genes when exposed to cells in the brain that are responsible for forming myelin. This collaboration demonstrates the cross-talk between the gut and the brain through metabolism that can affect mood and behavior, and showcases the powerful applications of metabolomics analysis in deconvoluting neurological function.