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The gut microbiota modulates brain network connectivity under physiological conditions and after acute brain ischemia.

iScience. 2021 Sep 9;24(10):103095. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103095. PMID: 34622150; PMCID: PMC8479691.

Authors/Editors: Aswendt M, Green C, Sadler R, Llovera G, Dzikowski L, Heindl S, Gomez de Agüero M, Diedenhofen M, Vogel S, Wieters F, Wiedermann D, Liesz A, Hoehn M.
Publication Date: 2021

Abstract

The gut microbiome has been implicated as a key regulator of brain function in health and disease. But the impact of gut microbiota on functional brain connectivity is unknown. We used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in germ-free and normally colonized mice under naive conditions and after ischemic stroke. We observed a strong, brain-wide increase of functional connectivity in germ-free animals. Graph theoretical analysis revealed significant higher values in germ-free animals, indicating a stronger and denser global network but with less structural organization. Breakdown of network function after stroke equally affected germ-free and colonized mice. Results from histological analyses showed changes in dendritic spine densities, as well as an immature microglial phenotype, indicating impaired microglia-neuron interaction in germ-free mice as potential cause of this phenomenon. These results demonstrate the substantial impact of bacterial colonization on brain-wide function and extend our so far mainly (sub) cellular understanding of the gut-brain axis.

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