Gut microbial metabolites as links between diet and cognition: a systems biology investigation

Simon McArthur (primary)
Institute of Dentistry
Queen Mary, University of London
Andrea Malaspina (secondary)
Queen Square MND Centre
Institute of Neurology, UCL


The gut microbiota can exert potent influences on cognition, including affecting mood, anxiety and memory, but our understanding of how this is brought about is poor. The strongest available evidence suggests that this communication is mediated by gut microbe-derived metabolites, produced by microbial processing of dietary components, but mechanistic understanding of this is lacking. In this project we will investigate these interactions combining sensitive behavioural assays with cellular and molecular analyses to depict how key microbial metabolites affect cognition and thereby establish how dietary modification could impact on cognitive function and mental health.


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2 Hoyles et al. [2018] Microbiome-host systems interactions: protective effects of propionate upon the blood-brain barrier
Microbiome 6 55
3 Sarkar et al. [2018] The microbiome in psychology and cognitive neuroscience
Trends in Cognitive Science 22 611-636
4 Flanagan et al. [2020] Nutrition and the ageing brain: moving towards clinical applications
Ageing Research Reviews 62 101079
5 Nation et al. [2019] Blood-brain barrier breakdown is an early biomarker of human cognitive dysfunction
Nature Medicine 25 270-276

Plants, microbes, food and sustainability
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBioinformaticsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologySimulation / Modelling