Gut microbiota and short chain fatty acids: Influence on the autonomic nervous system

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology


Reaching across multiple fields of focus, spanning from periodontistry to gastroenterology to neurobiology to behavior, interest in the influence of the microbiome in human physiology and pathology has risen over the past few decades. Microbiota co-exist in and on humans forming an evolutionarily symbiotic biological unit, a halobiont, in which disruptions in the relationship can occur through genomic alterations and mutations [1]. The human microbiome consists of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoans that contribute 450 times more genes to this relationship and slightly outnumber human host cells [2, 3]. The bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are of the most interest and exist within five phyla: Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia. Within the Verrucomicrobia an interesting bacterium has emerged, Akkermansia muciniphila, a mucus-degrading bacterium that influences intestinal permeability [3, 4]. The composition of individual microbiota communities depends on host lifestyle and genetics [1]. Often the Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratio is considered a method for measuring the health of a community [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] but has not been fully validated in other studies suggesting the measurement of phyla in feces as a diagnostic tool may not be practical. Malfunction in the GI tract impacts other systems and leads the loss of physiological function, which disrupts the relationship between microbes and host. Gut microbial community disturbances caused by the host lifestyle (antibiotic use, food consumption, and lack of exercise), results in a decrease in diversity and have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension [2, 3, 5, 8], neurodegenerative Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases [4, 6], and even obesity [7].

Publisher's Statement

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12264-019-00410-8

Publication Title

Neuroscience Bulletin