A new study conducted by Belgian researchers has discovered a link between specific types of gut bacteria and depression. The team also found evidence that a range of gut bacteria has the ability to produce neuroactive compounds.
For the study, the team from Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB-KU Leuven) in Belgium, examined data of 1,054 individuals enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project. They compared general practitioner diagnoses of depression to fecal microbiome data.
This information helped the researchers to identify the specific groups of microorganisms that have a positive or negative impact on mental health. Two bacterial genera, Coprococcus and Dialister, were found to be depleted in people with depression.
"The relationship between gut microbial metabolism and mental health is a controversial topic in microbiome research,” study leader Professor Jeroen Raes from VIB-KU Leuven, told a news portal.
Adding, "The notion that microbial metabolites can interact with our brain — and thus behavior and feelings — is intriguing, but gut microbiome-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind. In our population-level study we identified several groups of bacteria that co-varied with human depression and quality of life across populations."
“This finding adds more evidence pointing to the potentially dysbiotic nature of the Bacteroides2 enterotype we identified earlier. Apparently, microbial communities that can be linked to intestinal inflammation and reduced well-being share a set of common features,” Raes further explained.
Researchers are hoping to further explore how human’s stomach bacteria impacts mood and how to better develop treatments that can improve a person's mental state.