From an evolutionary perspective, the genes of enteric microbes transmitted reliably across generations are nearly as much a part of the human organism as our own genes. Disruption of the microbiome leading to extinction of key 'heirloom' taxa can deprive individuals of metabolic pathways that have been present in their ancestors for millennia.
Some of these pathways support essential synthesis and toxin clearance processes, including the generation of blood-brain barrier-crossing metabolic products crucial for normal brain function.
Here, we discuss three such pathways: endogenous benzodiazepine synthesis, production of queuine/queuosine, and excretion of dietary mercury. Among them, these pathways have the potential to impact systems relevant to a wide range of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions including autism, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
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