Home Portfolio Brain Depression

What is the relationship between the intestinal microbiota, the gut and the depression?

Young woman looking through a window.
Young woman looking through a window.

Depression is a mental disorder, marked by enduring feelings of sadness, anxiety and a notable decline in enthusiasm for nearly all activities. Its onset stems from a mix of genetic, neurological, inflammatory, personality, cognitive and environmental factors. Depression is on the rise and forecasted to become the leading cause of the global disease burden by 2030. There is a mounting interest in the gut microbiota’s role as both a cause and potential solution to these rising rates.

Microbiota-gut-brain axis

The influence of the gut microbiota reaches far beyond the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It plays an important role in the complex interplay between the GI tract and the central nervous system, the so-called microbiota- gut-brain axis.
Within the microbiota-gut-brain axis, communication flows bidirectionally, weaving together neural, endocrine, immune and metabolic pathways.

The gut microbiota

There is compelling evidence linking gut microbiota composition to the gut-brain axis. Animal studies in particular show that reduced anxiety-and depression-like behaviours were observed in those raised in germ-free environments. Human research further underscores this connection, revealing differences in gut bacterial composition between healthy individuals and those experiencing depression.

Probiotics and depression

Research suggests probiotics can improve gut microbiota and intestinal barrier function. Numerous meta-analyses have confirmed the efficacy of probiotics in alleviating depressive symptoms, particularly in those with major depressive disorder. Notably, multispecies probiotic formulations have shown greater effectiveness compared to single-strain probiotics.