Medical

Strange new evidence connects gut bacteria to schizophrenia

Strange new evidence connects ...
A new study claims that mice that had their gut microbiome altered by receiving fecal transplants from humans with schizophrenia went on to display schizophrenic behaviors
A new study claims that mice that had their gut microbiome altered by receiving fecal transplants from humans with schizophrenia went on to display schizophrenic behaviors
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A new study claims that mice that had their gut microbiome altered by receiving fecal transplants from humans with schizophrenia went on to display schizophrenic behaviors
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A new study claims that mice that had their gut microbiome altered by receiving fecal transplants from humans with schizophrenia went on to display schizophrenic behaviors

An incredible new study is suggesting a strong association between schizophrenia and gut bacteria. The research not only reveals a correlation, but hypothesizes the microbiome potentially plays a role in altering neurologic function in ways that may amplify the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The research started out by analyzing fecal samples from 63 patients currently suffering from symptomatic schizophrenia. These samples were compared against a control group of 69 healthy individuals. Overall, several significant differences were found in microbial diversity between the schizophrenic subjects and the healthy controls.

The schizophrenic subjects, alongside displaying generally less microbial diversity in their microbiome, revealed higher levels of several bacterial families including Veillonellaceae, Prevotellaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Coriobacteriaceae. A number of other bacteria were seen in much lower levels in the schizophrenic subjects, including Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcaceae, Norank, and Enterobacteriaceae.

In trying to understand how specific these results were to schizophrenia versus other neuropsychiatric conditions, the researchers compared their data to microbiome studies in subjects suffering from major depression. Interestingly, this microbiome fingerprint was unique to schizophrenic subjects and shared little in common with the gut bacteria profile of subjects suffering from depression.

The next stage of the study was where things got really strange. The researchers took fecal samples from human schizophrenic patients and transplanted then into healthy, germ-free mice. The same process was also done using healthy human fecal samples to create an effective control group. The researchers claim the mice colonized with the schizophrenic microbiome soon displayed behavioral changes that have been associated with mouse models of schizophrenia.

These behavioral changes included hyperactivity and an increased startle response. Metabolic studies in the affected mice suggested the changes in microbiome caused alternations in their glutamate signaling. Disruptions in glutamate pathways have long been strongly hypothesized as fundamental to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

While the research undeniably implies a direct causal connection between the gut microbiome and schizophrenia, there are major unanswered questions raised by the data. It is widely known that schizophrenia is closely associated with a whole host of physical and social factors. From smoking to homelessness and heart disease, there are many confounding factors that could potentially account for the diverse differences in gut bacteria between the schizophrenic and healthy subjects.

The researchers also note that all but five of the schizophrenic subjects were taking antipsychotic medication. They report little difference in microbial makeup between the medicated and unmedicated schizophrenic subjects, but this is a strikingly small sample.

Finally, the study does recognize a difficulty in establishing a consistent mouse model for schizophrenia. It is challenging to generate mouse models for many psychiatric disorders so there isn't a clearly verifiable way to claim mice with fecal transplants from humans with schizophrenia can go on to themselves develop the appearance of schizophrenia.

However, despite looking at this study with reasonable caution, there is a growing body of evidence associating mental health conditions with specific gut bacteria profiles. Just a few days ago a major study revealed a strong correlation between specific gut bacteria and major depression, while other work from 2017 suggested the microbiome may play a role in both PTSD and Alzheimer's disease.

We are also learning more about the ways our gut can directly communicate with our brain, so all of this goes to say it is not a huge leap to think that gut bacteria can play a part in the onset of schizophrenia. It is still way too early to suggest the condition could be potentially treated with the simple administration of a probiotic, but it is an undeniably exciting new frontier for future research.

The new research was published in the journal Science Advances.

5 comments
BrianK56
Now that this is known a method of altering the gut bacteria should be investigated. I believe the gut microbes to be the key in human behavior and health.
guzmanchinky
That is incredible. I wonder if you gave the Schizophrenia patients a fecal transplant from a healthy donor what the result would be?
David J I
Where was this research undertaken? Where were the results published?
Eric Blenheim
Professor Hutschnecker, the personal shrink to POTUS Nixon stated many years ago that microorganisms payed a major part in 'Schizophrenia', and he identified Cytomegalovirus as the culprit, and that can be treated with specific antibiotics, but no psychiatric doctor these days ever looks for that, even though it is present in well over 50% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia in the spinal fluid and brain, an organism related to herpes that eats away at the brain, affecting perception, ability to relate to the environment, thinking patterns and behaviour. Dr Hutschnecker found that the greatly mushrooming spread of schizophrenia in the US, which had only had an extremely small number of 'schizophrenia' cases before the increasing rates of immigration of a certain community occurred, could be mapped in direct correlation to the rapidly mushrooming numbers in the influx of that certain immigrant community who were spreading that disease to other groups by sex, and he noted that the virus was extremely prevalent amongst that community, and that that community itself had a very large proportion of schizophrenia sufferers. No psychiatrist these days ever looks for that virus in sufferers or treats it, I wonder why. It was found by Dr Hutschnecker that symptoms of schizophrenia were massively alleviated and that even complete cures of schizophrenia could be effected in those who received treatment to cure cytomegalovirus. The degree of cure of schizophrenia that can be effected is proportional to some degree to how much damage to the brain the cytomegalovirus has already caused, so time is very important, though no doubt, the brain is capable of growing new brain tissue. And why dope people up with brain-damaging anti-psychotics whilst not curing the cause with antibiotics? it is like leaving a bath to overflow whilst trying to stop the flooding by merely mopping up the floor under the bath without even bothering to turn off the water taps. Merely having cytomegalovirus itself is not an absolute guarantee of suffering schizophrenia though, and even vitamin B3 has been found to effect a cure in many cases of schizophrenia, regardless of whether or not cytomegalovirus is treated or not, so the issue can be approached from multiple angles, some of which may even affect the others, but orthodox psychiatrists don't give that to patients either. In the US, it was found that many long-term mental hospital inmates who were suffering from incurable psychoses were almost completely cured, or completely cured so that their release could occur very shorty afterwards, by the simple method of stopping giving them coffee to drink all day, as that had been keeping them mental, being like amphetamine, if that had not been the original cause of their illness outside hospital in the first place, and of course, excessive caffeine prevents the body absorbing vital minerals and vitamins that are responsible for producing essential neurotransmitters and maintaining other essential processes in the body.
hibni
Read the book "Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues" by Martin J. Blaser to get an insight on how much our bacteria are important for our life and their importance has been underestimated by now.