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Title: Connecting gut microbiomes and short chain fatty acids with the serotonergic system and behavior in Gallus gallus and other avian species

The chicken gastrointestinal tract has a diverse microbial community. There is increasing evidence for how this gut microbiome affects specific molecular pathways and the overall physiology, nervous system and behavior of the chicken host organism due to a growing number of studies investigating conditions such as host diet, antibiotics, probiotics, and germ-free and germ-reduced models. Systems-level investigations have revealed a network of microbiome-related interactions between the gut and state of health and behavior in chickens and other animals. While some microbial symbionts are crucial for maintaining stability and normal host physiology, there can also be dysbiosis, disruptions to nutrient flow, and other outcomes of dysregulation and disease. Likewise, alteration of the gut microbiome is found for chickens exhibiting differences in feather pecking (FP) behavior and this alteration is suspected to be responsible for behavioral change. In chickens and other organisms, serotonin is a chief neuromodulator that links gut microbes to the host brain as microbes modulate the serotonin secreted by the host’s own intestinal enterochromaffin cells which can stimulate the central nervous system via the vagus nerve. A substantial part of the serotonergic network is conserved across birds and mammals. Broader investigations of multiple species and subsequent cross-comparisons may help to explore general functionality of this ancient system and its increasingly apparent central role in the gut-brain axis of vertebrates. Dysfunctional behavioral phenotypes from the serotonergic system moreover occur in both birds and mammals with, for example, FP in chickens and depression in humans. Recent studies of the intestine as a major site of serotonin synthesis have been identifying routes by which gut microbial metabolites regulate the chicken serotonergic system. This review in particular highlights the influence of gut microbial metabolite short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) on the serotonergic system. The role of SCFAs in physiological and brain disorders may be considerable because of their ability to cross intestinal as well as the blood-brain barriers, leading to influences on the serotonergic system via binding to receptors and epigenetic modulations. Examinations of these mechanisms may translate into a more general understanding of serotonergic system development within chickens and other avians.

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Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Monika Proszkowiec-Weglarz, Agricultural Research
Publisher / Repository:
Frontiers in Physiology
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Physiology
Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
Gut microbiome Gut-brain axis Short chain fatty acids Serotonin Chicken Avians Behavior Translational science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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