Influence of the human gut microbiota on depression and anxiety
Ficara, Austin Charles
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Depression and anxiety disorders affect upwards of one in six individuals at some point in their life making them the most prevalent mental illnesses today. Recent evidence has suggested a possible correlation between the human gut microbiota and the development of depressive and anxiety-like symptoms through a signaling pathway termed the microbiota-gut-brain axis. In both animals and individuals suffering from depression and anxiety-like symptoms, alterations in their gut microbial composition seem to compromise the function of this pathway. In addition to this microbiota-gut-brain axis, other microbiota-derived molecules have been linked to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Given this emerging role of the gut microbiome and gut–brain axis, it is crucial to understand the factors shaping our gut microbiome in order to determine potential therapeutic strategies to treat depression and anxiety. Following a concise review of the human microbiome, depression/anxiety, and the gut-brain axis, I will examine the gut microbiota role as a regulator of depression and anxiety. In addition, other biological markers associated with both the gut microbiome and these disorders will be reviewed. Lastly, I will evaluate the gut microbiome as a prospective therapeutic target for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.