For a long time, the brain was considered as the only important organ in understanding the biology of neurodevelopmental conditions. Recently, this focus has shifted to include the gut. The gut-brain axis is a continuous, two-way communication system between the enteric nervous system and the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain. A key modifier of the gut-brain axis is the gut microbiome, which refers to the microorganisms that colonize the human gastrointestinal tract after birth.
The gut microorganisms and their genes (collectively called the gut microbiome) are transferred from mother to baby at birth and continue to mature during the first years of life before reaching a certain stability. Throughout the lifespan, this stability is susceptible to a variety of factors, such as genetic factors, diet, stress, medication and illness.
Neurodevelopmental conditions are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors that interact with the gut-brain axis. The gut microbiome is therefore a likely candidate for identifying (not yet available) biomarkers of neurodevelopmental conditions and somatic co-existing conditions, such as epilepsy.
In our preclinical and clinical studies, we are collecting microbiome samples from mice and humans to identify bacterial species and to find out if there is an association between microbiome communities, neurodevelopmental conditions and their varying symptoms.
Further information can be found on our partner project Eat2BeNice’s website New Brain Nutrition.