Pro­bi­otics and de­creased de­pres­sion linked in Mac study

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH -

Pro­bi­otics may re­lieve symp­toms of de­pres­sion, as well as help gas­troin­testi­nal up­set, re­search from McMaster Univer­sity has found.

In a study pub­lished in the med­i­cal jour­nal Gas­troen­terol­ogy (May 2), re­searchers of the Farn­combe Fam­ily Di­ges­tive Health Re­search In­sti­tute found that twice as many adults with ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS) re­ported im­prove­ments from co­ex­ist­ing de­pres­sion when they took a spe­cific pro­bi­otic than adults with IBS who took a placebo. The study pro­vides fur­ther ev­i­dence of the mi­cro­biota en­vi­ron­ment in the in­testines be­ing in di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the brain, said se­nior au­thor Dr. Pre­mysl Ber­cik, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of medicine at McMaster and a gas­troen­terol­o­gist for Hamilton Health Sciences.

“This study shows that con­sump­tion of a spe­cific pro­bi­otic can im­prove both gut symp­toms and psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues in IBS. This opens new av­enues not only for the treat­ment of pa­tients with func­tional bowel dis­or­ders but also for pa­tients with pri­mary psy­chi­atric diseases,” he said.

IBS is the most com­mon gas­troin­testi­nal disor­der in the world, and is highly preva­lent among Cana­di­ans. It af­fects the large in­tes­tine and pa­tients suf­fer from ab­dom­i­nal pain and al­tered bowel habits like di­ar­rhea and con­sti­pa­tion.

They are also fre­quently af­fected by chronic anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion.

The pi­lot study in­volved 44 adults with IBS and mild to moder­ate anx­i­ety or de­pres­sion.

They were fol­lowed for 10 weeks, as half took a daily dose of the pro­bi­otic Bi­fi­dobac­terium longum NCC3001, while the oth­ers had a placebo.

At six weeks, 14 of 22, or 64 per cent, of the pa­tients tak­ing the pro­bi­otic had de­creased de­pres­sion scores, com­pared to seven of 22 (or 32 per cent) of pa­tients given placebo.

Func­tional Mag­netic Res­o­nance Imag­ing (fMRI) showed that the im­prove­ment in de­pres­sion scores was as­so­ci­ated with changes in mul­ti­ple brain ar­eas in­volved in mood con­trol.

“This is the re­sult of a decade long jour­ney — from iden­ti­fy­ing the pro­bi­otic, test­ing it in pre­clin­i­cal mod­els and in­ves­ti­gat­ing the path­ways through which the sig­nals from the gut reach the brain,” said Ber­cik.

“The re­sults of this pi­lot study are very promis­ing but they have to be con­firmed in a fu­ture, larger scale trial,” said Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, the first au­thor and a McMaster clin­i­cal re­search fel­low.

The study was per­formed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with sci­en­tists from Nestlé.

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