Title: The Microbiome as a Modifier of Environmental Risk for Cognitive Impairment
The gut microbiota is emerging as an important modulator of brain function and behavior, as several recent discoveries reveal substantial effects of the microbiome on neurophysiology, neuroimmunity and animal behavior. Despite these findings supporting a “microbiome-gut-brain axis”, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie interactions between the gut microbiota and brain remain poorly understood. To uncover these, the Hsiao laboratory is mining the human microbiota for microbial modulators of host neuroactive molecules, investigating the impact of microbiota-immune system interactions on neurodevelopment and examining the microbiome as an interface between gene-environment interactions in neurological diseases. In particular, our research on interactions between the microbiome and environmental risk factors for cognitive impairment reveal that microbial modulation of the neuroimmune system can alter hippocampal physiology and cognitive behavior. Overall, we aim to dissect biological pathways for communication between the gut microbiota and nervous system, toward understanding fundamental interactions between physiological systems that impact brain and behavior.
Dr. Hsiao is the De Logi Associate Professor in Biological Sciences, UCLA Department of Integrative Biology & Physiology.
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