Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, Volume 58, July 2020,
Trillions of microbes cover the surfaces of our bodies and inhabit our gastrointestinal tract. In the past decade, research efforts examining the role of the microbiome in mental health have moved to the forefront of neuroscience and psychiatry. Based on a foundation of animal studies demonstrating the vital role for microbiota-brain communication in brain development, behavior, and brain function over the life span, clinical studies have started to consider the microbiome in psychiatric disorders. The composition, diversity and function of commensal microbes is influenced by genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. This review provides an overview of the factors contributing to individual differences in the microbiome, reviews recent work in psychiatric disorders, and considers what is needed to advance a better understanding of how the microbiome impacts mental health which may help us understand the heterogeneity observed in clinical psychiatric populations.