Editors' ChoiceHost-Microbe Interactions

The Gut Microbiota and the Blood-Brain Barrier

Sci. Signal.  25 Nov 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 353, pp. ec333
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaa3404

The blood-brain barrier is an important gateway that controls the passage of molecules and nutrients into and out of the brain. An intact blood-brain barrier is a crucial checkpoint for appropriate development and function of the brain. Braniste et al. showed that germ-free pregnant dams, devoid of commensal microbes, have offspring with increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. The increased permeability persisted as the germ-free mice reached adulthood. However, fecal transplants, containing commensal bacteria, from pathogen-free mice into adult germ-free mice reduced blood-brain barrier permeability, which was associated with increased expression of genes encoding tight junction proteins. These findings suggested that crosstalk between the gut microbiota and the brain, initiated during the intrauterine period, persists throughout life.

V. Braniste, M. Al-Asmakh, C. Kowal, F. Anuar, A. Abbaspour, M. Tóth, A. Korecka, N. Bakocevic, N. L. Guan, P. Kundu, B. Gulyás, C. Halldin, K. Hultenby, H. Nilsson, H. Hebert, B. T. Volpe, B. Diamond, S. Pettersson, The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice. Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 263ra158 (2014). [Abstract]

N. Bien-Ly, R. J. Watts, The blood-brain barrier’s gut check. Sci. Transl. Med. 6, 263fs46 (2014). [Abstract]