Probiotics and Psychobiotics: the Role of Microbial Neurochemicals


In light of recent data, microorganisms should be construed as organisms that are capable of communication and collective behaviors. Microbial communication signals are involved both in interactions among microbial cells within microbial social systems, including the human body-inhabiting microconsortium, and the dialog between the microbiota and the host organism. The microbiota inhabits various niches of the host organism, especially the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Microorganisms release diverse signal molecules and, in addition, specifically respond to host signals. This enables them to constantly interact with the nervous system including the brain and the immune system of the host organism. Evolutionarily conserved signals that are involved in the communication between microbiota and the host include neuroactive substances (neurochemicals) such as peptides, amino acids, biogenic amines, short-chain fatty acids, and gaseous substances. This ongoing dialog may either stabilize the host’s physical and mental health state or, alternatively, cause serious health problems. Attempts are made to correct imbalances in the brain-gut-microbiota axis with probiotics including their subgroup called psychobiotics that release neuroactive substances directly influencing the human brain, psyche, and behavior. A number of recent review works address the microbiota–host system and its communication signals. Some of the publications focus on the involvement of neurochemicals in the bidirectional communication within the host–microbiota system. However, this work concentrates on the impact of bacterial cell components, metabolites, and signal molecules as promising alternatives to the currently widespread probiotics that have both advantages and disadvantages. Such biologically active agents of microbial origin are referred to as postbiotics or, alternatively, metabiotics (the term preferred in this work).

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Fig. 1


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    Metabiotics are discussed in the next section of this work


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Oleskin, A.V., Shenderov, B.A. Probiotics and Psychobiotics: the Role of Microbial Neurochemicals. Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 11, 1071–1085 (2019).

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  • Biofilms
  • Probiotics
  • Psychobiotics
  • Metabiotics
  • Neurochemicals
  • Nervous system
  • Immune system
  • Biogenic amines
  • Neuroactive amino acids
  • Short-chain fatty acids