A2: The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Mental Well Being

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/evidence-mounts-gut-bacteria-can-influence-mood-prevent-depression

Science Magazine, Published February 4, 2019.

Summary:

After a study of mice suggested that the composition of gut microbes can have an affect on behavior, scientists In Europe conducted several relatively large human studies to attempt discover a link between gut bacteria and mental health conditions in humans. It was found that the gut microbiomes of depressed people lacked two strains of bacteria that were present in the non-depressed groups. One of the strains absent in those with depression was found to have a pathway related to dopamine, more research is needed to understand the extent of the relationship.

Connections:

In class we discuss the overwhelming presence of microbes and how they affect processes such as the breakdown of organic and inorganic materials. We also discuss how intertwined the lives of humans are with that of bacteria. Many of our bodily functions, including digestion, are ruled by bacteria. This study is an application of the knowledge of bacteria breakdown and production of certain substrates and how those processes interact with human function.

Critical Analysis:

As someone who has experimented with natural remedies for mood disorders, I found myself pulled towards this subject. I am fascinated by the fact there was a clear difference in the composition of the gut microbes in individuals exhibiting depressive symptoms versus those who did not. I wonder which direction the relationship goes. If depression creates an environment in which these bacteria cannot prosper, or if the lack of these bacteria may be in part responsible for depressive symptoms. I think that the article successfully conveyed the findings of the studies in a way that the general public can understand. I think the author was responsible in that she presented the factual information, made connections to other studies, and presented a conclusion that supports more research being done before a causal link can be defined.

 

Question:

I wonder how the long term use of antibiotics affects the health of the gut microbiome?

 

 

 

1 Comment for “A2: The Link Between Gut Bacteria and Mental Well Being”

sjpershing

says:

I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for the post! In the article, I am not sure that they touched on the subject of the diets of those people who were depressed. For instance, some people who are depressed eat a lot of fatty foods, while others refuse to eat at all. They don’t comment about this phenomenon (although you do mention it in your post). Furthermore, I wonder how you can tell a depressed mouse from a non-depressed mouse…
In relation to your question, I found an article that explains that long term effects of antibiotics on the gut can promote bacterial resistance and increase colonization of infections. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5728355/

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