Do your gut microbes affect your brain dopamine?

Camila González-Arancibia, Jocelyn Urrutia-Piñones, Javiera Illanes-González, Jonathan Martinez-Pinto, Ramón Sotomayor-Zárate, Marcela Julio-Pieper, Javier A. Bravo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence shows changes in gut microbiota composition in association with psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. Moreover, it has been reported that perturbations in gut microbe diversity and richness influence serotonergic, GABAergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic neurotransmission. Among these, dopamine is regarded as a main regulator of cognitive functions such as decision making, attention, memory, motivation, and reward. In this work, we will highlight findings that link alterations in intestinal microbiota and dopaminergic neurotransmission, with a particular emphasis on the mesocorticolimbic circuit, which is involved in reward to natural reinforcers, as well as abuse substances. For this, we reviewed evidence from studies carried out on germ-free animals, or in rodents subjected to intestinal dysbiosis using antibiotics, and also through the use of probiotics. All this evidence strongly supports that the microbiota-gut-brain axis is key to the physiopathology of several neuropsychiatric disorders involving those where dopaminergic neurotransmission is compromised. In addition, the gut microbiota appears as a key player when it comes to proposing novel strategies to the treatment of these psychiatric conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1611-1622
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • Dopamine
  • Dopamine receptor 1
  • Gut microbiota
  • Mesocorticolimbic circuit


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