The link between the gut microbiota, also known as the second brain, and mental health has long been studied. The idea of substances produced by the symbiotic microorganisms in the host’s gut impacting their brain, behavior, and emotions, is of vital importance. 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 states their findings provide further evidence that a human’s intestinal bacteria produce neurotransmitters with a potential impact on the host’s emotional well-being and mental health. The opensource study is published in the journal Nature Microbiology.
Gut bacteria and neurology
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 did not take into account the effects of microbiotic variables. The 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 two genera of bacteria, Coprococcus and Dialister, are consistently depleted in the gut microbiota of people who are diagnosed with depression.
Data findings show whether they are following an antidepressant treatment has no effects on the results. These results were confirmed in a separate group of 1,063 clinically depressed participants in the Dutch LifeLines project.
Bacteria can impact mental health
The team states they also developed a computer algorithm to identify which gut bacteria may have an impact on the human nervous system and a person’s mental health. They conclude their new technology allows them to observe the ability of microorganisms to produce DOPAC, a substance linked to the neurotransmitter dopamine, associated with a healthier mental state.
The team surmises they have shown people suffering from depression lack two bacteria in their gut microbiota, called Coprococcus and Dialister. For the future, the researchers state the results of their bioinformatics analyses still need to be confirmed in further experiments.
Source: VIB-KU Leuven
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Michelle is a health industry veteran who taught and worked in the field before training as a science journalist.
Featured by numerous prestigious brands and publishers, she specializes in clinical trial innovation--expertise she gained while working in multiple positions within the private sector, the NHS, and Oxford University.