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The Microbiome: A New Target for Research and Treatment of Schizophrenia and its Resistant Presentations? A Systematic Literature Search and Review

Cuomo A, Maina G, Rosso G, Beccarini Crescenzi B, Bolognesi S, Di Muro A, Giordano N, Goracci A, Neal SM, Nitti M, Pieraccini F, Fagiolini A (2018) Front Pharmacol.  2018 Oct;9: 1040. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.01040. eCollection 2018. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here

Abstract:

Background: The gastrointestinal system hosts roughly 1,800 distinct phyla and about 40,000 bacterial classes, which are known as microbiota, and which are able to influence the brain. For instance, microbiota can also influence the immune response through the activation of the immune system or through the release of mediators that are able to cross the brain blood barrier or that can interact with other substances that have free access to the brain, such as tryptophan and kynurenic acid, which is a metabolite of tryptophan and which has been involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.

Objectives: This paper reviews the possible relationships between microbiome, schizophrenia and treatment resistance. Given the possibility of a role of immune activation and alterations, we also describe the relationship between schizophrenia and immune inflammatory response. Finally, we report on the studies about the use of probiotic and prebiotics in schizophrenia.

Methods: Cochrane library and PubMed were searched from the year 2000 to 2018 for publications about microbiome, immune-mediated pathology, schizophrenia and neurodevelopmental disorders. The following search string was used: (microbiome or immune mediated) AND (schizophrenia OR neurodevelopmental disorder). Associated publications were hand-searched from the list of references of the identified papers. A narrative review was also conducted about the use of probiotics and prebiotics in schizophrenia.

Results: There exists a close relationship between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, which makes it likely that there is a relationship between schizophrenia, including its resistant forms, and microbiota. This paper provides a summary of the most important studies that we identified on the topic.

Conclusions: Schizophrenia in particular, remain a challenge for researchers and practitioners and the possibility of a role of the microbiome and of immune-mediated pathology should be better explored, not only in animal models but also in clinical trials of agents that are able to alter gut microbiota and possibly influence the mechanisms of gastrointestinal inflammation. Microbiome targeted treatments have not been well-studied yet in patients with mental illness in general, and with schizophrenia in particular. Nonetheless, the field is well worth of being appropriately investigated.

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