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Editorials

New gut bacteria study paves way for potential depression treatment

Scientists have previously linked the bacteria found in our gut and mental health together. A new study now suggest
Published May 7, 2019 Updated May 9, 2019

Scientists have previously linked the bacteria found in our gut and mental health together. A new study now suggests that transplanting gut bacteria can alter depression-related behavior, hence paving way for probiotic depression treatment.

A new research carried out by scientists from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia detailed the outcome transplanting gut bacteria from rats that face social stressors to rats that are not stressed. The team discovered that the bacteria transplanted from stressed to stress-free rats lead to a negative behavioral change in the latter group.

“In rats that show depressive-type behavior in a laboratory test, we found that stress changes their gut microbiome -- the population of bacteria in the gut,” said study leader Seema Bhatnagar. “Moreover, when we transplanted bacteria from those stress-vulnerable rats into rats that had not been stressed, the recipient animals showed similar behavior.”

Researchers capture bacteria that eat pollution, breathe electricity

Highlighting the link between gut bacteria and mental health, the transplanted gut microbiome was also found to reduce inflammation in the brains of stress-free rats that received a bacterial transplant from stressed ones, reported Slash Gear.

The team also analyzed the fecal microbiomes of vulnerable rats, resilient rats, a non-stressed control group, and a placebo group. The study found that rats more vulnerable to stress contained higher percentages of certain bacteria as compared to the other rats.

Upon carrying out fecal transplants from vulnerable rats into ‘naïve rats’ that had never subjected to any stress, they found behavioral changes linked with depression. The team explained anxiety was mostly influenced by neural activity changes triggered by stress, whereas depressive behaviors were more closely linked to gut bacteria, wrote Science Daily.

For future, the team believes that their research helps pave way for potential new depression treatments that might involve the use of probiotics consisting of specific beneficial bacterial strains.

“Although much more research remains to be done, we can envision future applications in which we could leverage knowledge of microbiome-brain interactions to treat human psychiatric disorders,” said Bhatnagar. “If we can eventually validate beneficial behavioral effects from specific bacteria, we could set the stage for new psychiatric treatments.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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