Microbe–Immune–Stress Interactions Impact Behaviour during Postnatal Development

Cassandra Francella, Miranda Green, Giorgia Caspani, Jonathan K.Y. Lai, Kelly C. Rilett, Jane A. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Decades of research have established the role of microbiota–brain communication in behaviour and brain function. Studies have shown that microbiota composition and diversity are influenced by a variety of factors including host genetics, diet, and other environmental exposures, with implications for the immunological and neurobiological development of the host organism. To further understand early-life interactions between environment, genetic factors, the microbiome and the central nervous system, we investigated the impact of postnatal stress in C57Bl/6 wild type and T-cell deficient mice on microbe–brain interactions and behaviour. Mice were exposed to immune challenge with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at postnatal day (P) 3 and maternal separation at P9 (16 h overnight). Behavioural assessment of growth and development as well as behaviour (righting reflex, ultrasonic vocalizations in response to brief maternal separation, open field, sociability, and grooming) was conducted. Microbiota diversity and composition of fecal samples collected at P24 revealed reduced alpha diversity in T-cell-deficient mice as well as genotype- and stress-related taxa. Notably, integrated analyses of microbiota and behaviour in the context of immunocompromise revealed key behavioural related taxa that may be important to brain development. These findings are important to determining the influence of genetic and environmental factors on gut microbiota and advances our understanding microbiome–brain signaling pathways on neurodevelopment and behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15064
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • T cells
  • behaviour
  • gut-brain axis
  • microbiome
  • postnatal development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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