Exploring the Gut-Brain Axis: The Impact of Gut Microbiota-Immune Interface on Mood and Multiple Sclerosis

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-0180-6044
Merchak, Andrea, Neuroscience - School of Medicine, University of Virginia
Gaultier, Alban, MD-NESC Neuroscience, University of Virginia

The gut microbiota is the collection of trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tract. These bacteria, fungi, and viruses assist with digestion, protect from pathogens, and shape our immune systems. Scientists can harness these microorganisms to aid in the treatment or prevention of various diseases, here we will focus on autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders are characterized by an overactive immune response that has gone beyond its protective role and is causing harm to the patient. One example is multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that results in destruction of myelin in the central nervous system. Further, recent evidence suggests that mood disorders including depression and anxiety may have an autoimmune component. Here, I examine how to harness the gut microbiota to promote resilience to stressful life events as well as to promote myelin recovery in autoimmune demyelination. Together this work suggests that probiotic treatment may be helpful in patients with autoimmune disorders and that research should continue to investigate the byproducts made by bacteria as potential new therapeutic agents.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Gut Microbiome, Multiple Sclerosis, Mood Disorders, Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor
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