Amelioration of the brain structural connectivity is accompanied with changes of gut microbiota in a tuberous sclerosis complex mouse model

Christine Chin jung Hsieh, Yu Chun Lo, Hsin Hui Wang, Hsin Ying Shen, You Yin Chen*, Yi Chao Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic disease that causes benign tumors and dysfunctions in many organs, including the brain. Aside from the brain malformations, many individuals with TSC exhibit neuropsychiatric symptoms. Among these symptoms, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most common co-morbidities, affecting up to 60% of the population. Past neuroimaging studies strongly suggested that the impairments in brain connectivity contribute to ASD, whether or not TSC-related. Specifically, the tract-based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analysis provides information on the fiber integrity and has been used to study the neuropathological changes in the white matter of TSC patients with ASD symptoms. In our previous study, curcumin, a diet-derived mTOR inhibitor has been shown to effectively mitigate learning and memory deficits and anxiety-like behavior in Tsc2 +/− mice via inhibiting astroglial proliferation. Recently, gut microbiota, which is greatly influenced by the diet, has been considered to play an important role in regulating several components of the central nervous system, including glial functions. In this study, we showed that the abnormal social behavior in the Tsc2 +/− mice can be ameliorated by the dietary curcumin treatment. Second, using tract-based DTI analysis, we found that the Tsc2 +/− mice exhibited altered fractional anisotropy, axial and radial diffusivities of axonal bundles connecting the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, hypothalamus, and amygdala, indicating a decreased brain network. Third, the dietary curcumin treatment improved the DTI metrics, in accordance with changes in the gut microbiota composition. At the bacterial phylum level, we showed that the abundances of Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Tenericutes were significantly correlated with the DTI metrics FA, AD, and RD, respectively. Finally, we revealed that the expression of myelin-associated proteins, myelin bassic protein (MBP) and proteolipid protein (PLP) was increased after the treatment. Overall, we showed a strong correlation between structural connectivity alterations and social behavioral deficits, as well as the diet-dependent changes in gut microbiota composition. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024


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