Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Role of gut microbiome in posttraumatic stress disorder

PTSD is a serious psychiatric disorder that can develop after a person experiences a life-threatening trauma. However, not everyone exposed to a traumatic event will develop PTSD, and several factors influence an individual's susceptibility, including living conditions, childhood experiences and genetic makeup. Stellenbosch University researchers are now also adding gut bacteria to this list.
In recent years, scientists have become aware of the important role of microbes existing inside the human gastrointestinal tract, called the gut microbiome. These microbes perform important functions, such as metabolising food and medicine, and fighting infections. It is now believed that the gut microbiome also influences the brain and brain function by producing neurotransmitters/hormones, immune-regulating molecules and bacterial toxins.
In turn, stress and emotions can change the composition of the gut microbiome. Stress hormones can affect bacterial growth and compromise the integrity of the intestinal lining, which can result in bacteria and toxins entering the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation, which has been shown to play a role in several psychiatric disorders.
Individuals with PTSD had significantly lower levels of this trio of bacteria compared to trauma-exposed control groups. Individuals who experienced trauma during their childhood also had lower levels of two of these bacteria (Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia).


Sian M.J. Hemmings, Stefanie Malan-Müller, Leigh L. van den Heuvel, Brittany A. Demmitt, Maggie A. Stanislawski, David G. Smith, Adam D. Bohr, Christopher E. Stamper, Embriette R. Hyde, James T. Morton, Clarisse A. Marotz, Philip H. Siebler, Maarten Braspenning, Wim Van Criekinge, Andrew J. Hoisington, Lisa A. Brenner, Teodor T. Postolache, Matthew B. McQueen, Kenneth S. Krauter, Rob Knight, Soraya Seedat, Christopher A. Lowry. The Microbiome in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma-Exposed ControlsPsychosomatic Medicine, 2017; 79 (8): 936 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000512

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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