Sex Differences in the Gut-Brain Axis: Implications for Mental Health

Calliope Holingue, Alexa Curhan Budavari, Katrina M. Rodriguez, Corina R. Zisman, Grace Windheim, M. Daniele Fallin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: The purpose of this article is to highlight how sex differences in the gut-brain axis may contribute to the discrepancies in incidence of neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders between females and males. We focus on autism spectrum disorder, psychotic disorders, stress and anxiety disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease and additionally discuss the comorbidity between inflammatory bowel disorder and mental health disorders. Recent Findings: Human and animal studies show that sex may modify the relationship between the gut or immune system and brain and behavior. Sex also appears to modify the effect of microbial treatments such as probiotics and antibiotics on brain and behavior. Summary: There is emerging evidence that assessing the role of sex in the gut-brain axis may help elucidate the etiology of and identify effective treatments for neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Brain
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Mental health
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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