Research ArticleBLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER

The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice

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Science Translational Medicine  19 Nov 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 263, pp. 263ra158
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009759

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The Gut Microbiota and the Blood-Brain Barrier

The blood-brain barrier is an important gateway that controls the passage of molecules and nutrients in and out of the brain. An intact blood-brain barrier is a crucial checkpoint for appropriate development and function of the brain. Braniste et al. now show that germ-free pregnant dams, devoid of maternal microbes, have offspring that show increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. This elevated permeability was also observed in adult germ-free mice. However, fecal transplants from mice exposed to bacteria into adult germ-free mice reduced blood-brain barrier permeability, possibly through the regulation of tight junction proteins. These findings suggest that crosstalk between the gut microbiota and the brain, initiated during the intrauterine period, is perpetuated throughout life.