Food and Behaviour Research

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The gut microbiome from patients with schizophrenia modulates the glutamate-glutamine-GABA cycle and schizophrenia-relevant behaviors in mice

Zheng P, Zeng B, Liu M, Chen J, Pan J, Han Y, Liu Y, Cheng K, Zhou C, Wang H, Zhou X, Gui S, Perry SW, Wong ML, Licinio J, Wei H, Xie P (2019) Sci Adv.  2019 Feb;5(2): eaau8317. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8317. eCollection 2019 Feb. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a devastating mental disorder with poorly defined underlying molecular mechanisms. The gut microbiome can modulate brain function and behaviors through the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Here, we found that unmedicated and medicated 
patients with SCZ had a decreased microbiome α-diversity index and marked disturbances of gut microbial composition versus healthy controls (HCs). Several unique bacterial taxa (e.g., Veillonellaceae and Lachnospiraceae) were associated with SCZ severity. A specific microbial panel (Aerococcaceae, Bifidobacteriaceae, Brucellaceae, Pasteurellaceae, and Rikenellaceae) enabled discriminating patients with SCZ from HCs with 0.769 area under the curve. Compared to HCs, germ-free mice receiving SCZ microbiome fecal transplants had lower glutamate and higher glutamine and GABA in the hippocampus and displayed SCZ-relevant behaviors similar to other mouse models of SCZ involving glutamatergic hypofunction.

Together, our findings suggest that the SCZ 
microbiome itself can alter neurochemistry and neurologic function in ways that may be relevant to SCZ pathology.