Tag Archives: pituitary

Autism, Gut Bacteria and the HPA Axis-What is the connection?

The HPA axis is not a part of the body that is often discussed. It is a functional “axis” that is used to describe the relationship between three parts of the body: the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland, and the Adrenal glands. All three of these organs have critical functions with far-reaching implications for physical and mental health. Many psychiatric drugs have been found to affect the HPA axis, resulting in the therapeutic benefit of the drug. Imbalances in HPA function have been implicated in a wide array of neuropsychiatric conditions including in autism. The gut microbiome, gut bacteria, exert control over the development and function of the endocrine hormone system, in particular the HPA axis. Why does this matter? Because imbalances in gut bacteria can therefore result in imbalances in HPA axis development in early life-and this imbalance has the potential to make the person develop autism (as well as other problems in different individuals). It is important because the gut bacteria are so vulnerable to birth practices (c-section vs. natural), antibiotic use, antibiotics in food, pesticides, herbicides such as RoundUp, and even stress levels perceived by the individual. Higher stress is harmful to the gut bacteria through alterations of the digestive functions, secondary to autonomic nervous system imbalance (more sympathetic, or “fight-or-flight”, function).  Many of these are factors under our influence if not control! Gut bacterial populations are one of the most variable factors in human health, and yet one of the most neglected. My work on The Symbiont Factor is my contribution to spreading knowledge about the gut microbiome, so that more people can take control of their health and more conditions like autism can hopefully be prevented or successfully treated. The book is being configured/edited/reconfigured/formatted so that it works well on all Kindle download platforms, a task that is keeping me quite busy the last two weeks! Almost there, almost there…It will be so exciting when it is finally published! The book will also be available as a print format following its release as an e-book. Until then, stay tuned in and take care of your gut bacteria!










And, best of all, a slide show from one of the head researchers in the field, Ted Dinan: http://www.genome.gov/Multimedia/Slides/HumanMicrobiomeScience2013/33_Dinan.pdf


Loss of Gut Bacteria Results in Anxiety due to Changes in Brain Function


Recent research studies have demonstrated that there is a high level of communication between the gut and the brain. This communication arc has been termed the Gut-Brain Axis. The bacterial microbiome that exists within the human colon consists of a higher number of bacteria than the population of human beings on the planet. This bacterial colony communicates with the brain, influencing neurotransmitter receptor sites and modulating brain activity. One of the pathways that is affected by the intestinal microbiome is the HPA axis. This functional axis links the Hypothalamus, Pituitary and Adrenal glands to provide regulation of stress responses and other important functions. If the colony consists of predominantly beneficial symbiont organisms, the result is balanced and “normal” function. Conversely if the colony is ruled by non-beneficial organisms, or has been reduced in population due to antibiotic exposure, the result can be brain dysfunction. A study being published next month in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology studied the effect of a loss of gut bacteria on behavior in rats. The researchers found that the absence of the intestinal microbiome resulted in anxiety through dysfunction of the HPA axis. The genetic expression in the hypothalamus and hippocampus were altered, as was the Dopamine activity in the frontal lobe, hypothalamus and striatum. The significance of these changes is not only that gut bacteria help prevent inappropriate anxiety, but also that the microbiome wields influence over the function of multiple areas of the brain. Alteration to these parts of the brain has the potential to fundamentally change personality and behavior. This is yet another study documenting the importance of cultivating and developing a healthy colony of beneficial symbionts. The concepts explained in the research study are central to the theme of The Symbiont Factor, adding to the already expansive pool of knowledge documenting symbiont effects on human physical and mental health and function. 

Link to study mentioned: http://1.usa.gov/1ptZHrg