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The surprising new connection between schizophrenia and our guts



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An international team of researchers discovered an interesting link between human intestinal bacteria and schizophrenia, a long-term serious mental health condition whose underlying molecular mechanism still eludes scientists, in addition to the evidence that both can be connected

Schizophrenia is a name that vaguely encompasses a series of psychological symptoms and behaviors, such as psychosis, delusions and hallucinations, all of which occur in the brain. However, a study published in Science Advances suggests that the gut microbiome can lead to some aspects of schizophrenia.

"We understand schizophrenia as a brain disease," said Professor Ma-Ling Wong, of the State University of Medicine in New York at Syracuse, co-author, at a press conference, according to Discovery magazine. "But maybe we need to reexamine this line of thought and consider that maybe instinct has an important role."

The team analyzed the intestinal bacteria of 63 people who suffered from the disease (both those taking medications and those who did not) and 69 patients from a healthy control group, by sequencing genetic material from stool samples. They discovered that people with schizophrenia not only had a less diverse intestinal flora, but had certain groups of bacteria that were so different from those with schizophrenia that they could identify people who had it only because of their gut microbiome, as well as the track The severity of the condition.

The researchers also performed fecal transplants of patients with schizophrenia to germ-free mice. They report in the study that these mice showed similar behaviors to mice that have been designed to have a condition similar to schizophrenia. The team concludes that these findings suggest that there is a connection between specific elements of the microbiome and the condition, and starting with the intestine may be a way to treat schizophrenia.

The linkage of the metabolism of intestinal microbes with mental health conditions is a controversial and poorly understood field. The focus has been mainly on animal models, where researchers have analyzed the connection of the brain with the intestine. Only recently, similar attempts have been made to understand how this is important in humans.

We know that the gut is not just a place for food and water to be absorbed. Several important compounds, some of which are neuroactive, are produced in the human intestine. Bacteria may also play a role in their production, helping to degrade or modify these molecules, but the extent of their influence remains largely unclear.

It is also important to note that this connection does not imply causality, and does not tell us if it is the condition that affects the intestinal flora or vice versa. Little by little we are learning more about this link and it is important to continue studying in more depth how mental conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and the bacteria in our digestive tract are related to each other.

[H/T: Discovery Magazine]

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