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Gut-Brain Axis Lab

FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study focuses on the role of prenatal and early life environment and stress exposures on child development. Previous literature suggests that gut microbiota (GM) harbors a bidirectional communication with central nervous system, metabolic pathways and immune and stress regulatory systems. Recently, the role of GM in shaping human brain development has gained increasing interest. In the FinnBrain Gut-Brain Axis Lab we use repeated fecal samples and precise phenotyping to assess if and how prenatal and early life exposures are reflected to infant GM. Further, we the alterations in GM are associated with brain developmental (e.g. neuropsychological profiles, behavioral phenotypes) trajectories and later health outcomes.

We have successfully collected and analyzed fecal samples with 16S RNA sequencing (Illumina MiSeq) at several time points between 2.5 months and 5 years of child age, each time point consisting of around 150-500 infants. Additional to next-generation sequencing, we are performing metabolomic analyses of the fecal samples. We have access to other biological samples (including saliva cortisol, hair cortisol concentration, breast milk, urine as well as blood samples), extensive neuropsychological phenotyping (see Child Development and Parental Functioning Lab) and neuroimaging data (see Neuroimaging Lab) from the subjects.

This enables us in FinnBrain Gut-Brain Axis Lab to investigate how prenatal and early life stress and other exposures are reflected to the GM composition and functioning, and how these are associated with mother and child stress regulation and neuropsychological outcomes as well as development of chronic conditions.


Study group:

Adj. Prof. Linnea Karlsson, MD,

Prof. Hasse Karlsson, MD,

Dr. Eveliina Munukka,

Adj. Prof. Leo Lahti,

Anniina Keskitalo,

Anna Aatsinki, MD, PhD student,

Ville Laitinen, PhD student,