Food and Behaviour Research

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Effects of early-life penicillin exposure on the gut microbiome and frontal cortex and amygdala gene expression

Volkova A, Ruggles K, Schulfer A, Gao Z, Ginsberg S, Blaser M,  (2021) iScience DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102797  

Web URL: Read this and related articles on ScienceDirect



• Low-dose antibiotic exposure perturbs the infant gut mouse microbiome to PND10
• Frontal cortex and amygdala gene expression were substantially affected
• Multiple pathways underlying neurodevelopment were affected
• Specific gut microbial populations were linked with expression of particular genes


We have established experimental systems to assess the effects of early-life exposures to antibiotics on the intestinal microbiota and gene expression in the brain.

This model system is highly relevant to human exposure and may be developed into a preclinical model of neurodevelopmental disorders in which the gut–brain axis is perturbed, leading to organizational effects that permanently alter the structure and function of the brain.

Exposing newborn mice to low-dose penicillin led to substantial changes in intestinal microbiota population structure and composition. Transcriptomic alterations implicate pathways perturbed in neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

There also were substantial effects on frontal cortex and amygdala gene expression by 
bioinformatic interrogation, affecting multiple pathways underlying 
neurodevelopment. Informatic analyses established linkages between specific intestinal microbial populations and the early-life expression of particular affected genes.

These studies provide translational models to explore intestinal 
microbiome roles in the normal and abnormal maturation of the vulnerable central nervous system.