MAY 22, 2019 12:08 PM PDT

Are Anxiety Disorders Affected by Regulation of Intestinal Microbiota?

WRITTEN BY: Dena Aruta

Our understanding of the gut-brain axis has increased significantly in the past decade and is strongly supported by recent research. The bidirectional nature between the gut and brain microbiome interactions has been associated with both the pathophysiology and pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other GI disorders, but there is increasing evidence of psychiatric and neurologic disorders including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), affective disorders, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. 

The gut microbiota is vital for healthy functioning of the immune system as well as metabolism through the contribution of essential inflammatory mediators, vitamins, and nutrients. Recent studies have shown that the intestinal microbiota can modulate communication between the gut and brain through the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. If the intestinal microflora is altered, changes can be seen in physical/mental symptoms.

Anxiety is a psychiatric disorder that is often overlooked, especially when it's a comorbid condition. The global incidence of anxiety disorder is 3-25%, and when it occurs in chronic diseases such as cancer, IBS, and cardiovascular disease, it can be as high as 70%. Standard treatment for anxiety is usually psychopharmacological therapies and psychotherapy; however, finding alternative therapies, such as making changes in diet that can also reduce symptoms, would be beneficial to those suffering from anxiety.

Yang and colleagues sought to determine whether anxiety symptoms could be improved by regulation of intestinal microorganisms through a systematic literature review. Out of the 3,334 articles the researchers reviewed, 21 met both the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The 1,503 participants included "patients with IBS (10 studies), healthy controls (six studies) and other patients with chronic diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), obesity, fibromyalgia, and type 2 diabetes mellitus." Sixteen studies utilized "interventions regulating intestinal flora" consisting of probiotics with Lactobacillus alone or a mixture of LactobacillusStreptococcus, and Bifidobacterium, and five of the studies used "treatment as usual" and probiotics. 

This study had significant limitations due to the heterogeneity of comparisons made in the research design types, subjects, interventions, and anxiety assessment scales, eliminating the possibility of a meta-analysis. While there is a possibility that regulating the intestinal microbiota through probiotics and non-probiotic approaches may have a positive effect on reducing anxiety symptoms, further studies need to be performed to definitively make these conclusions. 

  

 

 

About the Author
  • After earning my Bachelor of Science degree in biology/chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (aka Va. Tech), I went on to complete clinical rotations in laboratory medicine at Roanoke Memorial Hospital. I spent the next 21 years working in healthcare as a clinical microbiologist. In 2015, I combined my fascination with medicine and passion for writing into a freelance career, and I haven't looked back. Even though my expertise is in microbiology and infectious diseases, I'm adept at writing about any medical topic. Being a freelance writer allows me to pursue a career where I can work at home with my two feline assistants, Luke and Grace. I'm a firm supporter of animal rights and volunteer for a local rescue during my free time. 
You May Also Like
MAR 11, 2021
Immunology
Bye-Bye Burning: A New UTI Vaccine
MAR 11, 2021
Bye-Bye Burning: A New UTI Vaccine
Researchers have developed a vaccine that “trains” the bladder to fight back against the bacteria that cause ...
MAR 18, 2021
Microbiology
How a Chronic Hepatitis B Infection Happens
MAR 18, 2021
How a Chronic Hepatitis B Infection Happens
Hepatitis B can cause a long-term and sometimes fatal disease. Princeton University researchers have learned more about ...
MAR 25, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Sperm's Molecular 'Memory' Is Revealed
MAR 25, 2021
Sperm's Molecular 'Memory' Is Revealed
The human genome contains the genes that make us who we are, because of how and when those genes are expressed. Gene exp ...
APR 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
APR 02, 2021
A New Neurodevelopmental Disorder is ID'ed
Researchers have identified a genetic disease that causes neurodevelopmental disorders in some affected kids. The diseas ...
APR 06, 2021
Health & Medicine
Is There an Upper Limit to the Benefits of Exercise?
APR 06, 2021
Is There an Upper Limit to the Benefits of Exercise?
By now, I am sure that you all know that one of the best ways to improve your health is by running, jogging, walking, or ...
APR 05, 2021
Neuroscience
Could a Keto Diet Treat Alzheimer's Disease?
APR 05, 2021
Could a Keto Diet Treat Alzheimer's Disease?
  Researchers from Brigham Young University have found evidence that eating a ketogenic diet- which is a diet that ...
Loading Comments...