Recent research has revealed that the gut microbiota plays a role in brain development and function and in different behavioural phenotypes (e.g. anxiety, depression, etc.). Evidence from animal studies indicates that the gut microbiota contributes to the communication and function of the gut-brain axis by regulating the production of neurotransmitters and other neuro-immunomodulatory factors, which may contribute to health programming at the early stages of development. Evidence from human studies is, however, rather limited.
The MyNewGut project will conduct tightly controlled epidemiological studies to investigate the impact of environmental factors on the gut microbiome and its influence on the brain, immune and endocrine systems during pregnancy and in early postnatal and adult phases. This will help identify modifiable factors that could influence the microbiome and its impact on the brain and metabolic programming at early stages of development – with long-term consequences for health.