Neurodegenerative and Neurodevelopmental Diseases and the Gut-Brain Axis: The Potential of Therapeutic Targeting of the Microbiome

Brian Bicknell, Ann Liebert, Thomas Borody, Geoffrey Herkes, Craig McLachlan, Hosen Kiat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The human gut microbiome contains the largest number of bacteria in the body and has the potential to greatly influence metabolism, not only locally but also systemically. There is an established link between a healthy, balanced, and diverse microbiome and overall health. When the gut microbiome becomes unbalanced (dysbiosis) through dietary changes, medication use, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and ageing, this has a profound effect on our health and is linked to many diseases, including lifestyle diseases, metabolic diseases, inflammatory diseases, and neurological diseases. While this link in humans is largely an association of dysbiosis with disease, in animal models, a causative link can be demonstrated. The link between the gut and the brain is particularly important in maintaining brain health, with a strong association between dysbiosis in the gut and neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases. This link suggests not only that the gut microbiota composition can be used to make an early diagnosis of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases but also that modifying the gut microbiome to influence the microbiome–gut–brain axis might present a therapeutic target for diseases that have proved intractable, with the aim of altering the trajectory of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, among others. There is also a microbiome–gut–brain link to other potentially reversible neurological diseases, such as migraine, post-operative cognitive dysfunction, and long COVID, which might be considered models of therapy for neurodegenerative disease. The role of traditional methods in altering the microbiome, as well as newer, more novel treatments such as faecal microbiome transplants and photobiomodulation, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9577
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • faecal microbiome transplants
  • microbiome
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • neurodevelopmental disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • photobiomodulation


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