“The notion that microbial metabolites can interact with our brain – and thus behaviour and feelings – is intriguing, but gut microbiome-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind,” said Professor Jeroen Raes, a scientist at KU Leuven who led the study.

The authors also created a computational technique allowing the identification of gut bacteria that could potentially interact with the human nervous system. They studied genomes of more than 500 bacteria isolated from the human gastrointestinal tract in their ability to produce a set of neuroactive compounds, assembling the first catalogue of neuroactivity of gut species. Some bacteria were found to carry a broad range of these functions.

“Many neuroactive compounds are produced in the human gut. We wanted to see which gut microbes could participate in producing, degrading or modifying these molecules,” said PhD student and team member Mireia Valles-Colomer.

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