Probiotics: Potential novel therapeutics for microbiota-gut-brain axis dysfunction across gender and lifespan

Author: Shikha Snigdha1, Kevin Ha1, Paul Tsai1, Timothy G Dinan2, Jeremy D Bartos3, Mohammed Shahid4
1 MeriCal, 233 E Bristol St., Orange, CA, USA.
2 APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
3 MeriCal, 233 E Bristol St., Orange, CA, USA. Electronic address:
4 MS4Pharma, Glasgow, UK.
Conference/Journal: Pharmacol Ther
Date published: 2021 Sep 4
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107978. , Word Count: 343

Probiotics are live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts present a health benefit for the host. While the beneficial effects of probiotics on gastrointestinal function are generally well recognized, new animal research and clinical studies have found that alterations in gut microbial communities can have a broad range of effects throughout the body. Non-intestinal sites impacted include the immune, endocrine, cardiovascular and the central nervous system (CNS). In particular, there has been a growing interest and appreciation about the role that gut microbiota may play in affecting CNS-related function through the 'microbiota-gut-brain axis'. Emerging evidence suggests potential therapeutic benefits of probiotics in several CNS conditions, such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and Parkinson's disease. There may also be some gender-specific variances in terms of probiotic mediated effects, with the gut microbiota shaping and being concurrently molded by the hormonal environment governing differences between the sexes. Probiotics may influence the ability of the gut microbiome to affect a variety of biological processes in the host, including neurotransmitter activity, vagal neurotransmission, generation of neuroactive metabolites and inflammatory response mediators. Some of these may engage in cross talk with host sex hormones, such as estrogens, which could be of relevance in relation to their effects on stress response and cognitive health. This raises the possibility of gender-specific variation with regards to the biological action of probiotics, including that on the endocrine and central nervous systems. In this review we aim to describe the current understanding in relation to the role and use of probiotics in microbiota-gut-brain axis-related dysfunction. Furthermore, we will address the conceptualization and classification of probiotics in the context of gender and lifespan as well as how restoring gut microbiota composition by clinical or dietary intervention can help in supporting health outcomes other than those related to the gastrointestinal tract. We also evaluate how these new learnings may impact industrial effort in probiotic research and the discovery and development of novel and more personalized, condition-specific, beneficial probiotic therapeutic agents.

Keywords: CNS disease; Gender; Lifespan; Microbiome; Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis; Probiotics.

PMID: 34492236 DOI: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107978