Life Science, Physical Science, S&F 2: Body Systems (HS), S&F 3: Body Systems (MS), S&P 4: Molecule Traits (HS), Structure & Properties of Matter, Structure and Function

How the Microbiome Might Affect Microglia

Emerging Developments in Microbiome and Microglia Research: Implications for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

SUMMARY: Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by gut bacteria influence the way microglia develop. This then affects the way synapses are pruned, myelination, and other aspects of brain development. There are three types of SCFAs: acetate, butyrate, and propionate. They each have different effects on both brain cells and colon cells. Researchers observed that in patients with autism spectrum disorder, their brain cells were hypermyelinated in certain areas and there was less pruning of the synapses occurring.

LESSON COMMENTS: If you’re teaching students about myelin sheaths and action potential, this is a great article to show how changes in myelination and synapse pruning could lead to changes in behavior. I would suggest students look up the behaviors displayed by patients with autism to see if it correlates with the changes in brain cells observed in this study.

Lebovitz, Y., Ringel-Scaia, V. M., Allen, I. C., & Theus, M. H. (2018). Emerging Developments in Microbiome and Microglia Research: Implications for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 1993. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.01993