The Role of Probiotics
Clinical trials point to potential benefits of probiotics in neuropsychiatric disorders, although the jury is still out on which bacteria, or which combination, are likely to produce the most benefit.
Some evidence points to a potential role for Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. One study in 75 infants treated for 6 months with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG showed a significantly decreased incidence of Asperger’s disorder and ADHD at age 13, compared to placebo. The study also found that the children who developed these disorders had lower levels of Bifidobacterium in their stool during the first 6 months of life.2 Studies in SCZ and BPD, however, have failed to find a benefit with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
The Future: Paving the Way for Precision Medicine
Continued research into the gut-immune-brain axis may provide an opportunity for precision medicine that can identify environmental triggers as well as tailored interventions for changing the gut microbiome and treating neuropsychiatric disorders.
“Environmental modifications involving diet, pre- and probiotics, and microbiota-based interventions (eg, fecal microbiota transplantation) may serve as conduits through which therapeutic influences may be exerted on the composition of the gut microbiome; subsequently, beneficial gut microbiome changes may mitigate neuropsychiatric manifestations through regulation of immune, metabolic, and neural signaling pathways,” the authors concluded.
Take Home Points
• Review article highlights research suggesting that the gut-immune-brain axis may contribute to the development of many neuropsychiatric disorders
• Alterations in the gut microbiome may trigger autoimmunity against the CNS, contributing to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders
• Imbalances in the gut microbiome may contribute to leaky gut, which may contribute to inflammatory responses that influence the CNS
• Research points to a bidirectional relationship between the gut and the brain, with the immune system acting as a bridge
• Further research is needed into environmental modifications that may contribute to precision medicine aimed at the gut-immune-brain axis
1. Delaney S, Hornig M, et al. Environmental Exposures and Neuropsychiatric Disorders: What Role Does the Gut-Immune-Brain Axis Play? Curr Environ Health Rep. 2018 Feb 8.
2. Partty A, Kalliomaki M, Wacklin P, et al. A possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial. Pediatr Res. 2015;77:823–828.