MAR 17, 2016 07:30 AM PDT

Featured Speaker - Friends with (Brain) Benefits: The impact of the gut microbiota on neurodevelopment and behaviour

Presented At Neuroscience
  • Professor & Chair, Anatomy & Neuroscience, University College Cork in Ireland
      John F. Cryan is Professor & Chair, Dept. of Anatomy & Neuroscience, University College Cork. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and PhD from the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland. He was a visiting fellow at the Dept Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia (1997-1998), which was followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA and The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. He spent four years at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel Switzerland, as a LabHead, Behavioural Pharmacology prior to joining UCC in 2005 where he was a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy and in the Dept. Pharmacology & Therapeutics UCC. Currently he is also a Principal Investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre

      Prof. Cryan has an H-Index of 57 (Google Scholar) having published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters including articles in high-impact journals such as PNAS, Neuron, Nature Reviews Neurosci. Molecular Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Progress in Neurobiology, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Gastroenterology, Gut and Journal of Neuroscience. He has edited books on "Behavioural Neurogenetics" (Springer Press, 2012) on "Depression: From Psychopathology to Pharmacotherapy" (Karger Press, 2010) and "Microbial Endocrinology: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease" (Springer Press, 2014).

      Prof. Cryan was recently selected as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters. Those researchers who, within an ESI-defined field, published Highly Cited Papers were judged to be influential, so the production of multiple top 1% papers was interpreted as a mark of exceptional impact. Professor Cryan, as a member of the Highly Cited Researcher List is also included in the 2014 The World's most Influential Scientific Minds


    There is a growing appreciation of the relationship between gut microbiota, and the host in maintaining homeostasis in health and predisposing to disease. Bacterial colonisation of the gut plays a major role in postnatal development and maturation of key systems that have the capacity to influence central nervous system (CNS) programming and signaling, including the immune and endocrine systems. Individually, these systems have been implicated in the neuropathology of many CNS disorders and collectively they form an important bidirectional pathway of communication between the microbiota and the brain in health and disease. Over the past 5 years substantial advances have been made in linking alterations in microbiota to brain development and even behaviour and the concept of a microbiota-gut brain axis has emerged. Animal models have been essential in moving forward this frontier research area. In order to assess such a role we use studies involving, germ free mice and early-life microbiota manipulations and finally probiotic administration in adulthood. We assess neurochemical, molecular and behavioural effects following these manipulations. Our data show that the gut microbiota is essential for normal stress, antidepressant and anxiety responses. Moreover, microbiota is essential for both social cognition and visceral pain. Finally, there are critical time-windows early in life when the effects of microbiota on brain and behaviour appear to be more potent. Our data also demonstrates that these effects may be mediated via the vagus nerve, spinal cord, or neuroendocrine systems. Such data offer the enticing proposition that specific modulation of the enteric microbiota by dietary means may be a useful "psychobiotic"-based strategy for stress-related neurodevelopmental disorders and possibly even neurodegenerative processes.

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