Mind-Gut Connection

The article, When Gut Bacteria Changes Brain Function: Some researchers believe that the microbiome may play a role in regulating how people think and feel. published in The Atlantic, is fascinating! I highly recommend it.

It’s not yet clear how the microbiome alters the brain. Most researchers agree that microbes probably influence the brain via multiple mechanisms. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds). Certain organisms also affect how people metabolize these compounds, effectively regulating the amount that circulates in the blood and brain. Gut bacteria may also generate other neuroactive chemicals, including one called butyrate, that have been linked to reduced anxiety and depression. Cryan and others have also shown that some microbes can activate the vagus nerve, the main line of communication between the gut and the brain. In addition, the microbiome is intertwined with the immune system, which itself influences mood and behavior.

This interconnection of bugs and brain seems credible, too, from an evolutionary perspective. After all, bacteria have lived inside humans for millions of years. Cryan suggests that over time, at least a few microbes have developed ways to shape their hosts’ behavior for their own ends. Modifying mood is a plausible microbial survival strategy, he argues that “happy people tend to be more social. And the more social we are, the more chances the microbes have to exchange and spread.”

As scientists learn more about how the gut-brain microbial network operates, Cryan thinks it could be hacked to treat psychiatric disorders. “These bacteria could eventually be used the way we now use Prozac or Valium,” he says. And because these microbes have eons of experience modifying our brains, they are likely to be more precise and subtle than current pharmacological approaches, which could mean fewer side effects. “I think these microbes will have a real effect on how we treat these disorders,” Cryan says. “This is a whole new way to modulate brain function.”

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Fusobacterium

Fusobacterium:

Although part of normal human gut flora, species of Fusobacterium strongly associated with numerous diseases, including colorectal cancer (CRC), appendicitis, dental plaque/ periodontal disease, hepatic cirrhosis, and inflammatory bowel disease • Fusobacterium correlates positively with TNF-alpha, suggesting involvement of mucosal inflammation • Obese, older subjects with metabolic syndrome demonstrated increased Fusobacterium as compared to younger subjects.

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Methanobrevibacter smithii

Methanobrevibacter smithii:

• Abundance associated with higher bacterial gene richness in the gut • Lower counts of Methanobrevibacter species reported in human obesity; higher amounts reported in anorexia; in contrast, one study confirmed a positive association with increased BMI and body fat in methanogen-colonized populations • Higher levels linked to IBS-C; reduced levels linked with IBS-D • Methanogens found higher in people with colon cancer, colonic polyposis, ulcerative colitis, and diverticular disease (sigmoidoscopy enema samples) • Some studies have reported lower counts in IBD; conversely, other have reported Increased abundance.

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli:

• Increased counts reported in inflammatory bowel disease; • Increased levels found in diarrhea-predominant IBS • Higher in overweight pregnant women compared to normal weight pregnant women and in women with excessive weight gain during pregnancy • Reported to increase with weight loss after gastric bypass, correlating negatively with leptin levels.

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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Collinsella aerofaciens

Collinsella aerofaciens:

Lower counts reported in IBS; lower levels may correlate with greater severity of IBS symptoms • Higher concentrations reported in IBD; thought to be result of abnormal host responses to the bacteria • Collinsella spp. reported higher in type 2 diabetes

Source: https://www.gdx.net/core/interpretive-guides/GI-Effects-IG.pdf

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