The role of microbiota in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option

Fengli Lv, Suling Chen, Lina Wang, Ronghuan Jiang, Hongjun Tian, Jie Li, Yudong Yao and Chuanjun Zhuo _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:100899-100907. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21284

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Fengli Lv1,*, Suling Chen2,*, Lina Wang3,*, Ronghuan Jiang4, Hongjun Tian3, Jie Li3, Yudong Yao5 and Chuanjun Zhuo2,3

1The department of rehabilition, The Second Affiliated Hosptial of Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China

2Department of Psychiatry, Wenzhou Seventh People’s Hospital, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China

3Department of Psychiatry, Tianjin Anding Hospital, Tianjin Mental Health Center, Tianjin, China

4Department of Psychological Medicine, Chinese People’s Liberation Army, General Hospital, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Medical School, Beijing, China

5Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Chuanjun Zhuo, email: chuanjunzhuotjmh@163.com

Yudong Yao, email: zhongbaoliangwang@yeah.net

Jie Li, email: tjlijie3827@163.com

Keywords: microbiota, brain-gut axis, psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia, depression

Received: June 15, 2017     Accepted: August 26, 2017     Published: September 27, 2017


The importance of interactions between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract has been increasingly recognized in recent years. It has been proposed that dysregulation and abnormalities in the brain-gut axis contribute to the etiology of a variety of central nervous system disorders. Particularly, dysbiosis, or impaired microbiota, has been implicated in multiple neurological and psychological disorders. The present paper reviews current evidence and theories concerning the possible mechanisms by which microbiota dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder. Clinical trials that investigated the possibility of treating both illnesses by correcting and rebalancing microbiota with probiotics are also reviewed. Overall, despite the accumulated knowledge in this field, more studies are warranted and required to further our understanding of the brain-gut axis and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.

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