Aarhus University Seal

Vanwalleghem Team

Area of expertise: Gut-brain axis in larval zebrafish

We are what we eat, or so the saying goes. The enteric nervous system is a complex network that drives and regulates multiple gut functions such as motility, homeostasis, and nutrient uptake. The gut microbiome is also known to have bidirectional interactions with the enteric and central nervous system, forming the so-called gut-brain axis. Dysregulation of the microbiome has been correlated with several conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, depression or anxiety.

Our overarching goal is to understand how dysregulation of the bidirectional communication between the gut microbiome and the nervous system can affect behaviour and lead to mental health disorders. We use a transparent fish to look at the activity of neurons, using a fluorescent calcium indicator, in vivo and in real time. We plan to manipulate the microbiome of the animal to study how the enteric nervous system’s activity changes, and how that can affect behaviour. Furthermore, we plan to look at the interplay of neurons and immune cells in regulating the microbiome.

Gilles Claude Vanwalleghem is Team Leader at DANDRITE and assistant professor at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG). The lab is situated in the University City at Universitetsbyen 83, 8000 Aarhus C.