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, 78 (1), 1-6

A Systematic Review of the Effect of Probiotic Supplementation on Schizophrenia Symptoms


A Systematic Review of the Effect of Probiotic Supplementation on Schizophrenia Symptoms

Qin Xiang Ng et al. Neuropsychobiology.


Background: Derangements of the gut microbiome have been linked to increased systemic inflammation and central nervous system disorders, including schizophrenia. This systematic review thus aimed to investigate the hypothesis that probiotic supplementation improves schizophrenia symptoms.

Methods: By using the keywords (probiotic OR gut OR microbiota OR microbiome OR yogurt OR yoghurt OR lactobacillus OR bifidobacterium) AND (schizophrenia OR psychosis), a preliminary search of the PubMed, Medline, Embase, Google Scholar,, Clinical Trials Register of the Cochrane Collaboration Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group (CCDANTR), and Cochrane Field for Complementary Medicine databases yielded 329 papers published in English between January 1, 1960 and May 1, 2018. Attempts were made to search grey literature as well.

Results: Three clinical studies were reviewed, comparing the use of probiotics to placebo controls. Applying per-protocol analysis and a fixed-effects model, there was no significant difference in schizophrenia symptoms between the group that received probiotic supplementation and the placebo group post-intervention as the standardized mean difference was -0.0884 (95% CI -0.380 to 0.204, p = 0.551). Separate analyses were performed to investigate the effect of probiotic supplementation on positive or negative symptoms of schizophrenia alone. In both instances, no significant difference was observed as well.

Conclusion: Based on current evidence, limited inferences can be made regarding the efficacy of probiotics in schizophrenia. Although probiotics may have other benefits, for example to regulate bowel movement and ameliorate the metabolic effects of antipsychotic medications, the clinical utility of probiotics in the treatment of schizophrenia patients remains to be validated by future clinical studies.

Keywords: Gut-brain axis; Lactobacillus; Probiotics; Schizophrenia; Supplementation.

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