Most of the time when we think about neurological disorders and how to manage them, we often think about targeting the brain. Resent research indicates that we may want to include investigations of the microbial environment in the gut to uncover each person’s root imbalances.

Recent research by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine suggests that microbes in the gut may contribute to certain symptoms associated with complex neurological disorders.

The findings, published in the journal Cell, also suggest that microbe-inspired therapies may one day help to treat them.

Specifically, the team found that in mouse models for neurodevelopmental disorders, hyperactivity is controlled by the host’s genetics, whereas social behavior deficits are mediated by the gut microbiome.

More importantly from a therapeutic perspective, they found that treatment with a specific microbe – called L. reuteri – that promotes the production of compounds in the biopterin family in the gut improved the social behavior of the treated mice; treatment with L. reuteri did not, however, seem to affect hyperactivity.

This research adds to the growing body of knowledge linking intestinal health, and more specifically, the microbial balance in the gastrointestinal tract, with mental and neurological fitness. In the not-to-distant-future, this may provide another practical, and possibly more fundamental, method to address neurological disorders.