The Brain In Your Gut

Serotonin is a well-known hormone responsible for stabilizing our mood with feelings of well-being and happiness. Throughout decades of research, serotonin has been associated with major depressive disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, PTSD, OCD, Autism, and several other mental health disorders. To no surprise, the brain is filled with aggregate neuron projections which produce and communicate with serotonin. Given the brain’s strong connection with this critical neurotransmitter, it is truly fascinating that more than 90% of it is actually produced in the GI tract. Novel discoveries as such have put the bidirectional communication between the enteric and central nervous system, termed gut-brain axis, at the forefront of research for clinicians, scientists, and the general public.

The symbiotic connection between the gut and the brain intensifies further in a recent publication which focuses on the interaction between intestinal bacteria and the precursor to serotonin, 5-hydroxyindole (5-HI). In this study, researchers from The University of Groningen in The Netherlands discovered a wide variety of intestinally located microbes capable of producing 5-HI. 5-HI is a common molecule found in many dietary elements, and is also the primary active molecule in most antidepressants.

The relevance of these findings come as the biomedical research community continues to unravel the “why” underlying the frequent comorbidity between mental ailments and gastrointestinal dysmotility.

Related Links: Long Summary | Original Article

About Amber Bullock

Amber Bullock earned her BS in Applied Health Sciences from the University of
Wisconsin-Parkside in 2018, and her MS in Biomedical Research from The University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 2020. Her research focused on the gut microbiota as it pertains to host metabolism and neurological functions. While in the lab of Dr. Sahar El Aidy, Amber and her team published a paper which revealed distinct mechanisms by which specific intestinal bacteria contribute to gut motility. Currently, Amber is in her first year as a grossroom technician in the Surgical Pathology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins.

Amber Bullock
Grossroom Technician
Surgical Pathology Laboratory