Gut–brain axis and neurodegeneration: State-of-the-art of meta-omics sciences for microbiota characterization

Bruno Tilocca, Luisa Pieroni, Alessio Soggiu, Domenico Britti, Luigi Bonizzi, Paola Roncada, Viviana Greco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent advances in the field of meta-omics sciences and related bioinformatics tools have allowed a comprehensive investigation of human-associated microbiota and its contribution to achieving and maintaining the homeostatic balance. Bioactive compounds from the microbial community harboring the human gut are involved in a finely tuned network of interconnections with the host, orchestrating a wide variety of physiological processes. These includes the bidirectional crosstalk between the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract (i.e., gut–brain axis). The increasing accumulation of evidence suggest a pivotal role of the composition and activity of the gut microbiota in neurodegeneration. In the present review we aim to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art of meta-omics sciences including metagenomics for the study of microbial genomes and taxa strains, metatranscriptomics for gene expression, metaproteomics and metabolomics to identify and/or quantify microbial proteins and metabolites, respectively. The potential and limitations of each discipline were highlighted, as well as the advantages of an integrated approach (multi-omics) to predict microbial functions and molecular mechanisms related to human diseases. Particular emphasis is given to the latest results obtained with these approaches in an attempt to elucidate the link between the gut microbiota and the most common neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Original languageEnglish
Article number4045
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Brain axis
  • Gut
  • Gut microbiota
  • Meta-omics sciences
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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