Brain trust

Author: Susan E Erdman1
1 Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Conference/Journal: Compr Psychoneuroendocrinol
Date published: 2023 Sep 28
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Pages: 100212 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.cpnec.2023.100212. , Word Count: 175

This narrative describes a personal journey that led to the discovery of a profound connection between microbial symbionts and oxytocin. Pivotal oxytocin discoveries began to emerge in 2011 while this researcher's multidisciplinary team explored gut microbial priming of the immune system and perinatal health. Inspired by oxytocin's role in early life events of milk release, neural connections, and social bonding, the team hypothesized a symbiotic relationship between microbes and oxytocin. Scientific experiments demonstrated that specific milk-borne microbes boosted oxytocin levels through a vagus nerve-mediated gut-brain pathway, affecting immune functions and wound healing capacity in the host animal. The exploration then expanded to microbial impacts on reproductive fitness, body weight, and even mental health. Overarching hypotheses envisioned a nurturing symbiosis promoting survival and societal advancement. Ultimately, this oxytocin-mediated partnership between microbes and mammals is portrayed as a harmonious legacy of neurological stability, empathy, and universal wisdom, transcending generations. The author's personal journey underscores the beauty and inspiration found in her scientific exploration.

Keywords: Gut-brain-immune; L. reuteri; Probiotic; Symbiont; Symbiotic; Vagus nerve.

PMID: 38108028 PMCID: PMC10724819 DOI: 10.1016/j.cpnec.2023.100212