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Research Summary: Gut Microbes Can Modify Our Mood and Behaviour, Research Reveals

Katherine Henry

The following is a summary of the research article: Gut microbes can modify our mood and behaviour, research reveals.

Topic: 

Our intestine hosts a complex ecosystem of bacteria which we call the gut microbiota. This gut microbiota has been shown to link to, and modify, our moods and behaviors. This means that research on gut bacteria could shed some light on the way we perceive anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders. It has also been shown that changes in diet can significantly change these gut bacteria. This includes drugs! Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and proton pump inhibitors are just some of the drugs that can interact and alter your gut microbiota. 

Hypothesis:

What is the connection between the microbiota, the brain, and mood? 

Theory: 

There seems to be a “microbial gut-brain axis” in which bacteria and the brain can communicate with one another. 

Research Test:

Canadian researchers tested this theory by taking shy mice and giving them a gut microbial transplant from less inhibited mice. What they found was that the shy mice did become more active and curious without inhibition. This shows that the difference in gut microbiota can influence mood and behavior in a significant way.

The Human Connection:

This result does seem to extend to humans as when depressed human patients give transplants of their gut microbiota to mice; there are alterations in their behavior that replicate the human pathology.

Limitations:

Unfortunately, further tests in humans would be too invasive, and so they are not being done.

What IS being done?

There are a few trials where humans are being given probiotics in attempt to see a gut microbial change, and although the results are promising, they are small studies with many steps. This means that until the study is more efficient and done in larger groups, it is hard to confirm their results as effective. Overall, the current results are promising.

What does this mean?

As research continues, there will be more confirming results on the aid of diet and drugs affecting gut microbiota. This means that we may be able to study types of diets and drugs, like probiotics, that could help create healthier guy bacteria which would in turn help stabilize mood and behavior.