Alterations in brain–gut communication and the intestinal microenvironment have been implicated in a variety of medical and neuropsychiatric diseases. Three central areas require basic and clinical research: (1) how the intestinal microenvironment interacts with the host immune system, central nervous system, and enteric nervous system; (2) the role of the intestinal microenvironment in the pathogenesis of medical and neuropsychiatric disease; and (3) the effects of diet, prebiotics, probiotics, and fecal microbiota transplantation on the intestinal microenvironment and the treatment of disease.
This review article is based on a symposium convened by the American Gastroenterology Association and the American Psychosomatic Society to foster interest in the role of the intestinal microenvironment in brain–gut communication and pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric and biopsychosocial disorders. The aims were to define the state of the art of the current scientific knowledge base and to identify guidelines and future directions for new research in this area.
This review provides a characterization of the intestinal microbial composition and function. We also provide evidence for the interactions between the intestinal microbiome, the host, and the environment. The role of the intestinal microbiome in medical and neuropsychiatric diseases is reviewed as well as the treatment effects of manipulation of the intestinal microbiome.
Based on this review, opportunities and challenges for conducting research in the field are described, leading to potential avenues for future research.