Microbiota and Neurological Disorders: A Gut Feeling.
In the past century, noncommunicable diseases have surpassed infectious diseases as the principal cause of sickness and death, worldwide. Trillions of commensal microbes live in and on our body, and constitute the human microbiome. The vast majority of these microorganisms are maternally derived and live in the gut, where they perform functions essential to our health and survival, including: digesting food, activating certain drugs, producing short-chain fatty acids (which help to modulate gene expression by inhibiting the deacetylation of histone proteins), generating anti-inflammatory substances, and playing a fundamental role in the induction, training, and function of our immune system. Among the many roles the microbiome ultimately plays, it mitigates against untoward effects from our exposure to the environment by forming a biotic shield between us and the outside world. The importance of physical activity coupled with a balanced and healthy diet in the maintenance of our well-being has been recognized since antiquity. However, it is only recently that characterization of the host-microbiome intermetabolic and crosstalk pathways has come to the forefront in studying therapeutic design. As reviewed in this report, synthetic biology shows potential in developing microorganisms for correcting pathogenic dysbiosis (gut microbiota-host maladaptation), although this has yet to be proven. However, the development and use of small molecule drugs have a long and successful history in the clinic, with small molecule histone deacetylase inhibitors representing one relevant example already approved to treat cancer and other disorders. Moreover, preclinical research suggests that epigenetic treatment of neurological conditions holds significant promise. With the mouth being an extension of the digestive tract, it presents a readily accessible diagnostic site for the early detection of potential unhealthy pathogens resident in the gut. Taken together, the data outlined herein provide an encouraging roadmap toward important new medicines and companion diagnostic platforms in a wide range of therapeutic indications.
Biores Open Access. 2016 May 1;5(1):137-45. doi: 10.1089/biores.2016.0010. eCollection 2016.