These past two weeks have introduced some really cool aspects of neuroscience that I do not usually see in the research papers I read, and I've enjoyed the variety. This week, my favorite was the Buffington et al. paper, as I think it was for most people. Not only was the research extremely interesting, but the authors knew the audience, and made it so that both microbiologists and neuroscientists alike could easily understand their results. However, I may have thought this because I struggled so much to get through the Reber et al. paper in comparison, or it could just be due to journal the Buffington et al. paper was published in (Cell).
Earlier today, I actually learned in my micro class that babies born through C-section have significantly different microbiomes than ones delivered naturally, so much so, that sometimes C-section babies are covered in vaginal fluid in order to compensate for important bacteria that is missing in their microbiome. I never realized how important the microbiome is to the individual, and that mere contact with someone with a healthy microbiome could have such significant results, as seen in the Buffington et al. paper. What I liked most about the paper is that not only did it link changes in gut microbiomes to behavior, but it took this one step further by observing the restoration of long-term potentiation in the VTA DA neurons by L. reuteri and linking that to oxytocin. Not only does this tell us more about L. reuteri and the differences between the MHFD and MRD offsprings microbiomes, but it enlightens us further on the mechanisms by which ASD operates, at least in respect to social behaviors. I think the link between L. reuteri and oxytocin is extremely significant, because now we can look at different disorders involving oxytocin and apply our knowledge to see if L. reuteri could be a potential treatment.
For the Reber et al. paper, I was a little overwhelmed. While I found the overall results extremely interesting, I was lost in the details and I am still a little confused at the link to anxiety-like behaviors. I was also intrigued by their brief mention of inflammatory diseases increasing in modern urban societies, but that was completely lost throughout the whole paper, at least to me. It seemed like 2 papers could have come from this, one on behavioral and neurological effects of the M. vaccae immunization, and one on its colitogenic effects. The link between gut bacteria, inflammation and the immune system, and the observed behaviors in mice was unexpected but interesting, and I'm excited to better understand it through tomorrow's discussion.