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Member Research and Reports

Taiwan: Researchers Reported Alterations in Gut Microbiota Composition for Clinical Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) has caused great burden of disease worldwide. The mechanisms of developing MDD are extremely complicated. Evidence from animal studies has pointed to the importance of studying mood regulation via the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Dr. Po-Hsiu Kuo, a professor in the Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine in the National Taiwan University College of Public Health, led a clinical study to uncover gut microbiota targets in relation to depression. The study has been published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Previously, animal models have been successfully established for studying causal effects of microbiota on mood regulation. However, mice gut microbiota compositions are quite different from those in humans, and environmental and host genetic factors all have influences on gut microbiota. Dr. Kuo’s team recruited MDD patients and heathy controls for 16S rRNA sequencing analyses. Significant differences were found in microbiota compositions between patients and controls, while controlling for dietary intake. In total, 23 taxa were associated with MDD (4 phyla, 7 families and 12 genera). A number of taxa were further correlated with depression severity, anxiety, and stress levels among patients and controls. Two pathways were enriched for depression via microbiota functions, the pentose phosphate and starch and sucrose metabolism. Ms. Chung, the first author of the study emphasized that “integrating with metabolomics data are of interests to validate and expand the current microbiota findings for MDD.” In conclusion, these results support for the involvement of specific microbiota in the development of clinical depression and mood related traits.

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