The microbiome and mind: Microbiota-host interactions in mood and mental health
February Meeting of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute
Jane Foster, Ph.D.
Researchers in psychiatry and neuroscience are increasingly recognizing the importance of microbiota to brain communication in mental health. Scientists have established the link between gut bacteria and anxiety-like behaviours in animal models and with emotional brain regions in healthy people. Work to date by our group and others suggest that microbiota influence brain structure, gene expression of stress-related and plasticity-related genes, stress-reactivity, and behaviour. Recent work in our lab has focused on how the interaction between microbiota and host genetics influence brain structure and behaviour. Bacterial community profiling of 16SrRNA gene was carried out using a modified bar-coded Illumina sequencing method in the McMaster Genome Center in different strains of mice. Strain-specific differences in microbiota richness and diversity were observed. The taxonomic profile of the microbiota showed significant strain differences in relative abundance of clinically relevant commensals such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobaccilus, Alistipes, and Prevotella. Initial analysis shows that significant strain differences in specific bacteria are associated with anxiety-related behaviours. Our results show that microbiota and host genetics influence behaviour – deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved is necessary to advance the use of microbiota-targeted therapies for use in clinical populations.