It is increasingly evident that bidirectional communication between
the gastrointestinal microbiota and the brain occurs and plays a
role in health and disease. Diseases as diverse as obesity, autism,
and anxiety have been linked to the microbiota in preclinical models.
Further, both human and animal studies have shown that modulation
of the microbiota with probiotics or antibiotics can change
aspects of behavior or brain function. As humans age, there is a
decrease in the diversity of the gut microbiota, and a decline in
the bacterial species often considered to be beneficial. It has been
hypothesized that this change may be associated with cognitive
decline, mood alterations, and neurological disease. In this presentation,
I will review the scientific basis of microbiome-brain interactions,
the preclinical and clinical data that support a role for the
microbiota in brain function, and the role of probiotics as potential
therapeutic agents for healthy aging.