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Review Article

Exp Neurobiol 2020; 29(6): 403-416

Published online November 3, 2020

© The Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences

Mental Disorders Linked to Crosstalk between The Gut Microbiome and The Brain

Tae-Yong Choi1*, Young Pyo Choi2 and Ja Wook Koo1*

1Emotion, Cognition and Behavior Research Group, Korea Brain Research Institute (KBRI), 2Laboratory Animal Center, Korea Brain Research Institute (KBRI), Daegu 41062, Korea

Correspondence to: *To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Tae-Yong Choi, TEL: 82-53-980-8439, FAX: 82-53-980-8399
Ja Wook Koo, TEL: 82-53-980-8430, FAX: 82-53-980-8399

Received: September 23, 2020; Revised: October 21, 2020; Accepted: October 22, 2020

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Often called the second brain, the gut communicates extensively with the brain and vice versa. The conversation between these two organs affects a variety of physiological mechanisms that are associated with our mental health. Over the past decade, a growing body of evidence has suggested that the gut microbiome builds a unique ecosystem inside the gastrointestinal tract to maintain the homeostasis and that compositional changes in the gut microbiome are highly correlated with several mental disorders. There are ongoing efforts to treat or prevent mental disorders by regulating the gut microbiome using probiotics. These attempts are based on the seminal findings that probiotics can control the gut microbiome and affect mental conditions. However, some issues have yet to be conclusively addressed, especially the causality between the gut microbiome and mental disorders. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms by which the gut microbiome affects mental health and diseases. Furthermore, we discuss the potential use of probiotics as therapeutic agents for psychiatric disorders.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords: Gastrointestinal microbiome, Brain, Mental disorders, Probiotics