People with depression have distinct intestinal microbes that differ from those without the disorder according to University of Florida Health researchers; this could enable more accurate detection, prevention and treatment strategies; this confirms other studies with animals.
According to Professor Bruce R. Stevens of the Department of physiology and functional genomic at UFHealth. depression is an inflammation-based illnesses which involves specific regions of the brain. Knowing that gut bacteria can produce inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules depending on species (family) or strain they wondered if
certain bacteria were associated with brain inflammation and neurotransmitter changes, as these play a key role in depression (1).
In their sample (average age 34) they had healthy people and an equivalent number of people who met the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder. First, they found from DNA testing of stool samples, that the two groups had recognisably different gut bacterial populations. But the amount of interacting data was huge.
They then created a novel computer algorithm. This enabled the researchers to work the other way round – feeding gut bacteria data into the algorithm, they could predict whether or not the person had clinical depression.
Stevens said that in future this system could be used for accurate detection, but could also be potentially used for prevention and cure. They could also remove inflammation-
causing bacteria possibly with antibiotics, and add anti-inflammation-producing bacteria and develop their numbers through an appropriate diet.
In May 2019, researchers led by Dr. Seema Bhatnagar from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia showed (2) that transplanting gut bacteria from socially stressed animals into normally healthy individuals resulted in more inflammation, more brain inflammation and a similar stressed state in the recipient. The depressed state was brought about by the presence of certain gut bacteria and the researchers argued that a changed diet, probiotic foods and supplements could well help.