Research Topic

Connecting the Developing Brain to the Rest of the Body: Implications for Health and Disease

About this Research Topic

The brain, one of the most complex organs of the body, is composed of an enormous diversity of neuronal and non-neuronal cells, assembled together to establish precise functional networks. By integrating an unceasing flow of external and internal information, brain circuits produce relevant response underlying individual’s complex behaviors. Evidence of active interactions of the brain with other organs’ metabolism and physiology, with the immunological and reproductory systems, and with cancer and aging cells, are emerging in support of brain-body axes that can modulate properties at the whole-organism level. Little though is known about whether and how these brain- body axes are established already during prenatal and postnatal development.

Brain development relies on a complex orchestra of intertwined cellular and molecular events that are tightly regulated in time and space to generate the distinct building blocks that characterize the cellular and molecular diversity of different regions of the brain. Intrinsic differentiation genetic programs and external stimuli, including sensory experiences, metabolic changes, inflammatory state, injury and other environmental signals contribute to shape the architecture and are known to have long-term impact on brain function. The developing brain, is, therefore not an isolated system: it is rather “connected” and is in tune with its environment, endowed with the ability to sense the signals that arise from it (i.e. connection with the mother, with the rest of developing body, etc..).

This Research Topic focuses on mechanistic evidence that sheds light on the physiological communication between the developing brain and the rest of the body. We encourage studies pointing at identifying the mechanisms that support these essential communications and, in particular, which brain-body axes are involved and what are the dynamic strategies at play to guaranteeing proper development of neuronal circuits. Investigations on potential alterations of these interactions that have detrimental effects on neurodevelopment, including but not limited to molecular, cellular, genetic, sensory, cognitive, immunological, and metabolic evidence will also be included.

Here, we strive to cover inspiring, compelling and innovative research and review reports in the field of neurodevelopment at the interface with other domains of biology. The areas to be covered may include, but are not limited to:
• Studies in animal models and in vitro systems (2D and 3D) that address the impact of brain-body interactions on molecular and cellular mechanisms in neuronal circuit formation and refinement during prenatal and postnatal brain development.
• Studies that assess the major communication pathways from peripheral organs to the brain and their
molecular modulators
• Studies that explore the mechanisms by which diet habits/microbiota composition, immunological insults, metabolic syndromes, can affect neurodevelopment in early childhood in health and disease.


Keywords: developing brain, neuronal activity, metabolism, environment, bacteria, epigenetics


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The brain, one of the most complex organs of the body, is composed of an enormous diversity of neuronal and non-neuronal cells, assembled together to establish precise functional networks. By integrating an unceasing flow of external and internal information, brain circuits produce relevant response underlying individual’s complex behaviors. Evidence of active interactions of the brain with other organs’ metabolism and physiology, with the immunological and reproductory systems, and with cancer and aging cells, are emerging in support of brain-body axes that can modulate properties at the whole-organism level. Little though is known about whether and how these brain- body axes are established already during prenatal and postnatal development.

Brain development relies on a complex orchestra of intertwined cellular and molecular events that are tightly regulated in time and space to generate the distinct building blocks that characterize the cellular and molecular diversity of different regions of the brain. Intrinsic differentiation genetic programs and external stimuli, including sensory experiences, metabolic changes, inflammatory state, injury and other environmental signals contribute to shape the architecture and are known to have long-term impact on brain function. The developing brain, is, therefore not an isolated system: it is rather “connected” and is in tune with its environment, endowed with the ability to sense the signals that arise from it (i.e. connection with the mother, with the rest of developing body, etc..).

This Research Topic focuses on mechanistic evidence that sheds light on the physiological communication between the developing brain and the rest of the body. We encourage studies pointing at identifying the mechanisms that support these essential communications and, in particular, which brain-body axes are involved and what are the dynamic strategies at play to guaranteeing proper development of neuronal circuits. Investigations on potential alterations of these interactions that have detrimental effects on neurodevelopment, including but not limited to molecular, cellular, genetic, sensory, cognitive, immunological, and metabolic evidence will also be included.

Here, we strive to cover inspiring, compelling and innovative research and review reports in the field of neurodevelopment at the interface with other domains of biology. The areas to be covered may include, but are not limited to:
• Studies in animal models and in vitro systems (2D and 3D) that address the impact of brain-body interactions on molecular and cellular mechanisms in neuronal circuit formation and refinement during prenatal and postnatal brain development.
• Studies that assess the major communication pathways from peripheral organs to the brain and their
molecular modulators
• Studies that explore the mechanisms by which diet habits/microbiota composition, immunological insults, metabolic syndromes, can affect neurodevelopment in early childhood in health and disease.


Keywords: developing brain, neuronal activity, metabolism, environment, bacteria, epigenetics


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

13 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

13 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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