Towards Tailored Gut Microbiome-Based and Dietary Interventions for Promoting the Development and Maintenance of a Healthy Brain.

Frontiers in pediatrics. 2021;9:705859
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The cause of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) is complex and multifactorial. Recent studies have indicated that early life disturbances of the gut microbiome can impact neurodevelopment, suggesting this critical window may play a key role in the prevention or progression of neurological disease. The growing field of personalized nutrition works on the basis of tailored dietary intervention strategies that consider individual variability based on genetics, diet, and the environment. The aim of this paper is to review the current evidence on the neurodevelopmental interaction between the gut microbiota, environment and host, and assess the efficacy of tailored, personalized nutrition interventions aimed at preventing or treating NDDs. The literature provides evidence that the gut microbiota is susceptible to influence by various factors early in life, and the health of the microbiome may modulate mental health consequences later in life. Additionally, key nutritional deficiencies and microbiome alterations have been linked to NDDs, suggesting potential markers that may lead to improved prevention and treatment. Based on the current literature, the authors emphasize the need for further research during the critical window of microbiome development in order to target the cause of neurodevelopmental impairments. They suggest these findings could help progress the field of Nutritional Psychiatry towards effective tailored nutrition and personalized medicine.


Mental health is determined by a complex interplay between the Neurological Exposome and the Human Genome. Multiple genetic and non-genetic (exposome) factors interact early in life, modulating the risk of developing the most common complex neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), with potential long-term consequences on health. To date, the understating of the precise etiology underpinning these neurological alterations, and their clinical management pose a challenge. The crucial role played by diet and gut microbiota in brain development and functioning would indicate that modulating the gut-brain axis may help protect against the onset and progression of mental-health disorders. Some nutritional deficiencies and gut microbiota alterations have been linked to NDDs, suggesting their potential pathogenic implications. In addition, certain dietary interventions have emerged as promising alternatives or adjuvant strategies for improving the management of particular NDDs, at least in particular subsets of subjects. The gut microbiota can be a key to mediating the effects of other exposome factors such as diet on mental health, and ongoing research in Psychiatry and Neuropediatrics is developing Precision Nutrition Models to classify subjects according to a diet response prediction based on specific individual features, including microbiome signatures. Here, we review current scientific evidence for the impact of early life environmental factors, including diet, on gut microbiota and neuro-development, emphasizing the potential long-term consequences on health; and also summarize the state of the art regarding the mechanisms underlying diet and gut microbiota influence on the brain-gut axis. Furthermore, we describe the evidence supporting the key role played by gut microbiota, diet and nutrition in neurodevelopment, as well as the effectiveness of certain dietary and microbiome-based interventions aimed at preventing or treating NDDs. Finally, we emphasize the need for further research to gain greater insight into the complex interplay between diet, gut microbiome and brain development. Such knowledge would help towards achieving tailored integrative treatments, including personalized nutrition.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Digestive, absorptive and microbiological
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Gut microbiome
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Psychological
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review