•1H NMR Spectroscopy showed changes in the neurochemical profiles of regions of the brains of germ free and normal mice and rats.
•1H NMR Spectroscopic analysis revealed microbiome-associated changes to be both species- and region-dependent.
•For both rats and mice concentrations of hippocampal taurine were higher in the absence of an established microbiome.
•The metabolites differentiating germ free and conventional revealed an effect of the microbiota on energy metabolism.
1H NMR Spectroscopy has been applied to determine the neurochemical profiles of brain extracts from the frontal cortex and hippocampal regions of germ free and normal mice and rats. The results revealed a number of differences between germ free (GF) and conventional (CV) rats or specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice with microbiome-associated metabolic variation found to be both species- and region-dependent. In the mouse, the GF frontal cortex contained lower amounts of creatine, N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), glycerophosphocholine and lactate, but greater amounts of choline compared to that of specific pathogen free (SPF) mice. In the hippocampus, the GF mice had greater creatine, NAA, lactate and taurine content compared to those of the SPF animals, but lower relative quantities of succinate and an unidentified lipid-related component. The GF rat frontal cortex contained higher relative quantities of lactate, creatine and NAA compared to the CV animals whilst the GF hippocampus was characterized by higher taurine and phosphocholine concentrations and lower quantities of NAA, N-acetylaspartylglutamate and choline compared to the CV animals. Of note is that, in both rat and mouse brain extracts, concentrations of hippocampal taurine were found to be greater in the absence of an established microbiome. The results provide further evidence that brain biochemistry can be influenced by gut microbial status, specifically metabolites involved in energy metabolism demonstrating biochemical dialogue between the microbiome and brain.
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