Boundaries and integration between microbiota, the nervous system, and immunity


The enteric nervous system is largely autonomous, and the central nervous system is compartmentalized behind the blood-brain barrier. Yet the intestinal microbiota shapes gut function, local and systemic immune responses, and central nervous system functions including cognition and mood. In this review, we address how the gut microbiota can profoundly influence neural and immune networks. Although many of the interactions between these three systems originate in the intestinal mucosa, intestinal function and immunity are modulated by neural pathways that connect the gut and brain. Furthermore, a subset of microbe-derived penetrant molecules enters the brain and regulates central nervous system function. Understanding how these seemingly isolated entities communicate has the potential to open up new avenues for therapies and interventions.

Journal details

Journal Immunity
Volume 56
Issue number 8
Pages 1712-1726
Available online
Publication date