Can Gut Bugs Cause Depression?

sharma-obesity-gut-buts1Regular readers will by now be well aware of the rapidly growing body of researcher supporting the idea that your gut bugs (of which you have more than you have cells in your body) may well play a key role in determining your risk for obesity and other metabolic disorders.

Now, a paper by Ruth Ann Luna and Jane Foster from Baylor College of Medicine and McMaster University, respectively, published in Current Opinion in Biotechnology, review the evidence that gut bugs may well also have significant effects on your stress response as well as other aspects of mental healthy, including depression.

As one example, they cite a study that shows,

“…a general underrepresentation of the Bacteroidetes phylum in depressed patients and an association of the Lachnospiraceae family with the depression group, and interestingly, even with a decrease in Bacteroidetes, specific operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified as members of the Bacteroidetes phylum correlated with depression.”

They also cite a number of studies showing that stress can affect gut bug populations and that certain gut bacteriomes are associated with a greater stress response, suggesting that the relationship between gut bugs and stressors may well be a two-way street.

The authors go on to describe a number of pathways that may link gut bugs to humoral, neural, and cellular signaling pathways to brain function.

Clearly, this appears a rich area of research that may well reveal pathways common to both neurological and metabolic issues, both of which may turn out to be amenable to dietary and probiotic interventions.

London, UK

ResearchBlogging.orgLuna RA, & Foster JA (2014). Gut brain axis: diet microbiota interactions and implications for modulation of anxiety and depression. Current opinion in biotechnology, 32C, 35-41 PMID: 25448230