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There is increasing evidence that the gut microbiota affects the incidence and progression of central nervous system diseases via the brain-gut axis. The spinal cord is a vital important part of the central nervous system; however, the underlying association between spinal cord injury and gut interactions remains unknown. Recent studies suggest that patients with spinal cord injury frequently experience intestinal dysfunction and gut dysbiosis. Alterations in the gut microbiota can cause disruption in the intestinal barrier and trigger neurogenic inflammatory responses which may impede recovery after spinal cord injury. This review summarizes existing clinical and basic research on the relationship between the gut microbiota and spinal cord injury. Our research identified three key points. First, the gut microbiota in patients with spinal cord injury presents a key characteristic and gut dysbiosis may profoundly influence multiple organs and systems in patients with spinal cord injury. Second, following spinal cord injury, weakened intestinal peristalsis, prolonged intestinal transport time, and immune dysfunction of the intestine caused by abnormal autonomic nerve function, as well as frequent antibiotic treatment, may induce gut dysbiosis. Third, the gut microbiota and associated metabolites may act on central neurons and affect recovery after spinal cord injury; cytokines and the Toll-like receptor ligand pathways have been identified as crucial mechanisms in the communication between the gut microbiota and central nervous system. Fecal microbiota transplantation, probiotics, dietary interventions, and other therapies have been shown to serve a neuroprotective role in spinal cord injury by modulating the gut microbiota. Therapies targeting the gut microbiota or associated metabolites are a promising approach to promote functional recovery and improve the complications of spinal cord injury.

(C) 2024 Neural Regeneration Research | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow