Effect of Intestinal Microbial Ecology on the Developing Brain

The mammalian gastrointestinal tract harbors a highly diverse microbial population that plays a major role in nutrition, metabolism, protection against pathogens, and development of the immune system. It is estimated that at least 1000 different bacterial species cohabit the human intestinal tract. Most recently, the Human Microbiome Project, using new genomic technologies, has started a catalog of specific microbiome composition and its correlation with health and specific diseases. Herein we provide a brief review of the intestinal microbiome, with a focus on new studies showing that there is an important link between the microbes that inhabit the intestinal tract and the developing brain. With future research, an understanding of this link may help us to treat various neurobehavioral problems such as autism, schizophrenia, and anxiety.

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