Gene-environment interactions impact the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, but the relative contributions are unclear. Here, we identify gut microbiota as sufficient to induce depressive-like behaviors in genetically distinct mouse strains. Daily gavage of saline in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice induced a social avoidance behavior that was not observed in C57BL/6 mice. This was not observed in NOD animals with depleted microbiota via oral administration of antibiotics. Transfer of intestinal microbiota, including members of the Clostridiales, Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae, from vehicle-gavaged NOD donors to microbiota-depleted C57BL/6 recipients was sufficient to induce social avoidance and change gene expression and myelination in the prefrontal cortex. Metabolomic analysis identified increased cresol levels in these mice, and exposure of cultured oligodendrocytes to this metabolite prevented myelin gene expression and differentiation. Our results thus demonstrate that the gut microbiota modifies the synthesis of key metabolites affecting gene expression in the prefrontal cortex, thereby modulating social behavior.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (#08-0676, #08-0675; LA10-00398; LA12-00193; LA12-00146).
- Peggy Mason, University of Chicago, United States
© 2016, Gacias et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Microbes in the gut influence the social behaviour of mice.
For decades, researchers have speculated how echolocating bats deal with masking by conspecific calls when flying in aggregations. To date, only a few attempts have been made to mathematically quantify the probability of jamming, or its effects. We developed a comprehensive sensorimotor predator-prey simulation, modeling numerous bats foraging in proximity. We used this model to examine the effectiveness of a spectral Jamming Avoidance Response (JAR) as a solution for the masking problem. We found that foraging performance deteriorates when bats forage near conspecifics, however, applying a JAR does not improve insect sensing or capture. Because bats constantly adjust their echolocation to the performed task (even when flying alone), further shifting the signals' frequencies does not mitigate jamming. Our simulations explain how bats can hunt successfully in a group despite competition and despite potential masking. This research demonstrates the advantages of a modeling approach when examining a complex biological system.