Alterations to gut bacteria due to stress in early life can result in anxiety and depression later in adulthood.
Gut bacteria is a wide range topic in medicine and it is being investigated on how gut bacteria affects our health. In the past, a study revealed the influence of gut bacteria on weight and another research discovered gut bacteria association with Parkinson’s disease.
The study published in Nature communications stated a remarkable association between gut flora and the triggering of the behavioral signs of stress.
Premysl Bercik, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, said that its long been known that gut bacteria can influence behavior. Majority of researches investigating this association have used healthy and normal mice.
Researchers used two groups of mice; one group with normal gut microbes while other group had no gut microbiota. Then, early-life stress was triggered by separation from their mothers for 3 hours daily from the age of 3-21 days.
The stressed mice with normal gut bacteria developed abnormal levels of stress hormone corticosterone as well as exhibited anxiety and depression-like behavior.
On the other hand, second group still experienced a rise in stress hormone but they did not show any signs of anxious and depressive behavior.
The study concluded that both host and microbial factors are required for the development of anxiety and depression-like behavior. Neonatal stress leads to gut dysfunction that changed the normal gut microorganisms, which in turn have altered the brain function.
Speaking about the vital findings, Berick said that we are starting to explain the complex mechanisms of interaction between the gut flora and its host.
Human gut, also known as alimentary canal, consists of trillions of microorganisms that perform the metabolic activities in the human body including fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and metabolizing bile acids. Intestinal bacteria also play a key role in synthesizing vitamins.
The experts are yet to determine whether the observations made during this study is applicable to humans. IMAGE/sciencedaily