Summary: A research team from the University of Leuven in Belgium has found that gut bacteria can produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which can influence mood and behavior if the chemical messengers are sent to receptors in the brain. Through their research, they also identified two strains of bacteria that are absent in the guts of individuals that have been diagnosed with depression. In their study over 2,000 gut bacteria was studied from European participants. Genomes of 532 strains of bacteria were tested to see if the bacteria had the capability to produce neurotransmitters. In their findings, it was noted that over 90% of the tested bacteria could produce neurotransmitters. It was also noticed that Coprococcus (influences mental health) and Dialister bacteria was depleted from participants suffering from depression even if they were taken antidepressants.
Connections: In lectures, we have discussed the human micro biome. Specifically, we have covered that the gut community is highly diverse including at least 16,000 species. Good bacteria found in the gut line the entire digestive system with most bacteria living in the intestines and colon. The bacteria found in the gut affects everything such as metabolism, mood and immune system. Which is why the connection between gut health and brain function isn’t surprising because we know that the gut micro biome is crucial for our health.
Critical analysis: I believe that this discovery could be very beneficial to individuals suffering from clinical depression. Perhaps having a healthy gut microbiome could be more beneficial than taking long term anti-depressants as studies have shown that long term use can exacerbate the inflammatory response. There is still much more to uncover about the bacteria in the gut. For example, understanding how the Coprococcus and the Dialister strains function in the gut. As of now this study has only identified bacteria that can influence mental health at a genus level. It is why identifying which species of Dialister and Dialister reduces depression.
Question: If the specific species of both bacteria’s that influence mental health are identified can they be introduced to individuals lacking such bacteria to reduce depression?