We propose the "microbiota-inflammasome" hypothesis of major depressive disorder (MDD, a mental illness affecting the way a person feels and thinks, characterized by long-lasting feelings of sadness). We hypothesize that pathological shifts in gut microbiota composition (dysbiosis) caused by stress and gut conditions result in the upregulation of pro-inflammatory pathways mediated by the Nod-like receptors family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome (an intracellular platform involved in the activation of inflammatory processes). This upregulation exacerbates depressive symptomatology and further compounds gut dysbiosis. In this review we describe MDD/chronic stress-induced changes in: 1) NLRP3 inflammasome; 2) gut microbiota; and 3) metabolic pathways; and how inflammasome signaling may affect depressive-like behavior and gut microbiota composition. The implication is that novel therapeutic strategies could emerge for MDD and co-morbid conditions. A number of testable predictions surface from this microbiota-gut-inflammasome-brain hypothesis of MDD, using approaches that modulate gut microbiota composition via inflammasome modulation, fecal microbiota transplantation, psychobiotics supplementation, or dietary change.
Keywords: NLRP3; depression; dysbiosis; gut microbiota; inflammasome; probiotics.
© 2018 The Authors. BioEssays Published by WILEY Periodicals, Inc.