Researchers Find Imbalances in Gut Microbiota May Cause Major Depressive Disorder

A groups of investigators from various institutions in China and the United States have discovered a connection between major depressive disorder (MDD) and disturbances in the human gut microbiome. The study was published in the “Science Advances” journal.

The team of researchers studied samples of fecal matter from control groups and patients suffering from MDD. Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a mood disorder that brings about a loss of interest or persistent feelings of sadness in an individual. The disorder affects how an individual behaves, thinks or feels, and may cause various physical and emotional problems.

Health practitioners believe that the disorder has a biological origin and is not just a reaction to events. The team of researchers argued that they had discovered evidence that connects symptoms of the disorder to problems with an individual’s gut microbiome. The study involved the collection of fecal samples from 155 individuals who do not have the depressive disorder and 156 individuals who have been diagnosed with MDD.

The scientists then conducted a genetic analysis of each of the samples collected in order to determine the microbes and other materials in the samples. Additionally, the researchers conducted an extensive gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis on the samples in a bid to discover more about their composition.

The researchers noted that in there were differences in the components that were found in the samples, between those from individuals who did not have the disorder and those who did. Specifically, they discovered 3 bacteriophages, 50 fecal metabolites and 47 bacterial species that were different.

In addition, they also determined that patients with the depressive disorder had lower levels of bacteria from the Blautia and Eubacterium species and higher levels of different bacteria from the Bacteroides genus. This led the researchers to believe that major depressive disorder may be connected to problems with gut microbiome.

The researchers suggest that heightened levels of Bacteroides in the microbiome can explain why a lot of patients who suffer from MDD have associated inflammation and higher cytokine levels. The investigators noted that while the current method used to diagnose MDD is an interview, their findings may be useful in developing an additional test to confirm the disorder. This would be by conducting a screening test to assess for the presence of particular elements in the gut microbiome.

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