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Gut Feelings: Microbiome May Affect Mental Health and Interact With Treatments

Summary: Researchers confirm the link between mood, mental health and gut bacteria.

Source: ACNP.

All of us who have experienced a “nervous stomach” under periods of stress suspect that there is a link between our gut and our mood. This link received strong scientific support during a series of presentations at the recent meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

As noted by Dr. Vicki Ellingrod – the Chair of this session, “Current state-of-the-art research in both animal models as well as humans point to the link between the gut microbiota and mood and anxiety models, as well as the potential for psychiatric medications to directly affect the gut microbiome.”

This link was most convincingly demonstrated when changes in the diversity of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal system were measured while rats were subjected to chronic stress over a 7-week period. Not only did the number of microorganisms decrease as stress became more chronic, behavioral changes suggested that the rats also began experiencing loss of pleasure and “despair-like” behavior. Moreover, when these microorganisms were transferred from the stressed rats to a new group of animals that had not been stressed, Dr. Emily Jutkiewicz found that these new animals also began to demonstrate these same behavioral changes after 5 days, suggesting a potential causal mechanism.

Treatment implications were examined in a series of human studies that demonstrated similar reductions in the microbiome in participants suffering from both major depression and bipolar disorder. These changes were associated with increased anxiety and sleep problems, and with increased complaints of general health problems. Referring to these associations in bipolar subjects, Dr. Simon Evans concluded that, “The data support the hypothesis that targeting the microbiome may be an effective treatment paradigm for bipolar disorder.”

Image shows a gut and bacteria.

“Current state-of-the-art research in both animal models as well as humans point to the link between the gut microbiota and mood and anxiety models, as well as the potential for psychiatric medications to directly affect the gut microbiome.” NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

The role of medications was examined during the final two presentations. By studying individuals over time, Dr. Chadi Calarge was able to examine microbiome changes when individuals were depressed or in remission, and when they were and were not receiving anti-depressant medications (SSRIs). While no changes in gut bacterial diversity was seen in patients with depression, species-level differences were observed. In addition, starting SSRI treatment was associated with increased Indoles production, implicating changes in tryptophanase-producing bacteria. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests the presence of increased intestinal permeability in depression, potentially leading to increased bacterial translocation.

Finally, changes in how our body metabolizes energy, and resulting weight gain can be a troubling side effect of atypical antipsychotic (AAP) medications. In the final presentation of the day, Dr. Stephanie Flowers showed that female bipolar participants who gained weight with AAP treatment, had a greater reduction in microbiome diversity than did female bipolar patients who were also being treated with AAP medications but did not gain weight, suggesting that the health of our gut may also put us at increased risk for certain medication side effects.

About this psychology research article

Source: Erin Colladay – ACNP
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.
Original Research: The study will be presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
ACNP “Gut Feelings: Microbiome May Affect Mental Health and Interact With Treatments.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 7 December 2016.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/microbiome-mental-health-5702/>.
ACNP (2016, December 7). Gut Feelings: Microbiome May Affect Mental Health and Interact With Treatments. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved December 7, 2016 from http://neurosciencenews.com/microbiome-mental-health-5702/
ACNP “Gut Feelings: Microbiome May Affect Mental Health and Interact With Treatments.” http://neurosciencenews.com/microbiome-mental-health-5702/ (accessed December 7, 2016).

Abstract

New learning while consolidating memory during sleep is actively blocked by a protein synthesis dependent process

Brief experiences while a memory is consolidated may capture the consolidation, perhaps producing a maladaptive memory, or may interrupt the consolidation. Since consolidation occurs during sleep, even fleeting experiences when animals are awakened may produce maladaptive long-term memory, or may interrupt consolidation. In a learning paradigm affecting Aplysia feeding, when animals were trained after being awakened from sleep, interactions between new experiences and consolidation were prevented by blocking long-term memory arising from the new experiences. Inhibiting protein synthesis eliminated the block and allowed even a brief, generally ineffective training to produce long-term memory. Memory formation depended on consolidative proteins already expressed before training. After effective training, long term memory required subsequent transcription and translation. Memory formation during the sleep phase was correlated with increased CREB1 transcription, but not CREB2 transcription. Increased C/EBP transcription was a correlate of both effective and ineffective training and of treatments not producing memory.

“New learning while consolidating memory during sleep is actively blocked by a protein synthesis dependent process” by Roi Levy, David Levitan, and Abraham J Susswein in eLife. Published online December 5 2016 doi:10.7554/eLife.17779

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