Human threat learning is associated with gut microbiota composition

Javiera P. Oyarzun, Thomas M. Kuntz, Yoann Stussi, Olivia T. Karaman, Sophia Vranos, Bridget L. Callaghan, Curtis Huttenhower, Joseph E. LeDoux, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to learn about threat and safety is critical for survival. Studies in rodent models have shown that the gut microbiota can modulate such behaviors. In humans, evidence showing an association with threat or extinction learning is lacking. Here, we tested whether individual variability in threat and extinction learning was related to gut microbiota composition in healthy adults. We found that threat, but not extinction learning, varies with individuals’ microbiome composition. Our results provide evidence that the gut microbiota is associated with excitatory threat learning across species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpgac271
JournalPNAS Nexus
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • anxiety
  • gut microbiota
  • humans
  • learning
  • threat conditioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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