Connections between the gut and brain monitor the intestinal tissue and its microbial and dietary content1, regulating both physiological intestinal functions such as nutrient absorption and motility2,3, and brain-wired feeding behaviour2. It is therefore plausible that circuits exist to detect gut microorganisms and relay this information to areas of the central nervous system that, in turn, regulate gut physiology4. Here we characterize the influence of the microbiota on enteric-associated neurons by combining gnotobiotic mouse models with transcriptomics, circuit-tracing methods and functional manipulations. We find that the gut microbiome modulates gut-extrinsic sympathetic neurons: microbiota depletion leads to increased expression of the neuronal transcription factor cFos, and colonization of germ-free mice with bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids suppresses cFos expression in the gut sympathetic ganglia.
Read more at: Nature