The Microbiome in Mental Health: Potential Contribution of Gut Microbiota in Disease and Pharmacotherapy Management

Pharmacotherapy. 2015 Oct;35(10):910-6. doi: 10.1002/phar.1640.


The gut microbiome is composed of ~10(13) -10(14) microbial cells and viruses that exist in a symbiotic bidirectional communicative relationship with the host. Bacterial functions in the gut have an important role in healthy host metabolic function, and dysbiosis can contribute to the pathology of many medical conditions. Alterations in the relationship between gut microbiota and host have gained some attention in mental health because new evidence supports the association of gut bacteria to cognitive and emotional processes. Of interest, illnesses such as major depressive disorder are disproportionately prevalent in patients with gastrointestinal illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, which pathologically has been strongly linked to microbiome function. Not only is the microbiome associated with the disease itself, but it may also influence the effectiveness or adverse effects associated with pharmacologic agents used to treat these disorders. This field of study may also provide new insights on how dietary agents may help manage mental illness both directly as well as though their influence on the therapeutic and adverse effects of psychotropic agents.

Keywords: drug metabolism; metagenomics; microbiome; psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Mental Health*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Fatty Acids
  • Inflammation Mediators