Gut microbiome linked to mental health.

The link between gut microbiota, also known as the second brain, and mental health has long been studied. The idea that substances produced by the microorganisms in the host’s body can have an impact on their brain, and, by extension, their behaviour and emotions, is intriguing. However, this link has mostly been studied in animal models rather than human beings.  Now, a study from researchers at VIB-KU Leuven identifies several gut bacteria linked to depression. The team state their findings provide further evidence that a human’s intestinal bacteria produce neurotransmitters with a potential impact on the host’s emotions and mental health.  The opensource study is published in the journal Nature Microbiology

Previous studies show advances in sequencing technology enabled the exploration of the role of the gut microbiota in a broad range of neurological and psychiatric disorders and diseases, however, while these studies generated the first candidate pathology-associated taxa, they were generally underpowered or did not take into account the effects of microbiotic variablesThe current study shows people suffering from depression lack two bacteria in their gut microbiota, called Coprococcus and Dialister.

The current study analyzes the gut microbiome of 1,054 people enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project (FGFP).  Results show that there were two genus of bacteria, Coprococcus and Dialister, consistently depleted in the gut microbiota of people who were diagnosed with depression.  Data findings show that whether they were following an antidepressant treatment had no effects on the results.  These results were confirmed in a separate group of 1,063 clinically  depressed participants in the Dutch LifeLines project.

The team state they also developed a computer technique to identify which gut bacteria may have an impact on the human nervous system.  They go on to add that their toolbox makes it possible to identify bacteria which may have an impact on a person’s mental health. For instance, their new technology allowed them to observe the ability of microorganisms to produce DOPAC, a substance linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with a better mental quality of life.

The team surmise they have shown that people suffering from depression lack two bacteria in their gut microbiota, called Coprococcus and Dialister.  For the future, the researchers state that the results of their bioinformatics analyses still need to be confirmed in further experiments, therefore they are currently preparing another sampling round for the Flemish Gut Flora Project, which will start next spring.

Source: VIB-KU Leuven


brain gut microbiota microbiome neuroscience neuroinnovations healthinnovations


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