What recent gut-brain axis research do you find most compelling?
The ongoing debate and discussion related to nature versus nurture in the microbiome space is fascinating. We know that our genetics and our environment influence health and disease, so it is not surprising that genetics and environment contribute to gut health and more specifically to the composition of the bacteria that reside in our GI tracts.
On the nature side, evidence shows that host genetics influence bacterial composition and function. On the nurture side, diet, exercise, and exposure to drugs and stress are important factors to consider. If you add the biological factors of age and sex, which are also important to microbiome composition and function in health and disease, the story gets complicated.
Research aimed at identifying the molecules and mechanisms that mediate microbe-host interactions will inform the nature-nurture debate. It is important to understand the signaling pathways through which microbiota shape host cellular biology, physiology, and metabolism to provide us insight into how microbiota-brain communication influences individual differences in health and disease.