Current Perspectives on Gut Microbiome Dysbiosis and Depression

Adv Ther. 2020 Apr;37(4):1328-1346. doi: 10.1007/s12325-020-01272-7. Epub 2020 Mar 4.


The human gut microbiome partakes in a bidirectional communication pathway with the central nervous system (CNS), named the microbiota-gut-brain axis. The microbiota-gut-brain axis is believed to modulate various central processes through the vagus nerve as well as production of microbial metabolites and immune mediators which trigger changes in neurotransmission, neuroinflammation, and behavior. Little is understood about the utilization of microbiome manipulation to treat disease. Though studies exploring the role of the microbiome in various disease processes have shown promise, mechanisms remain unclear and evidence-based treatments for most illnesses have not yet been developed. The animal studies reviewed here offer an excellent array of basic science research that continues to clarify mechanisms by which the microbiome may affect mental health. More evidence is needed, particularly as it relates to translating this work to human subjects. The studies presented in this paper largely demonstrate encouraging results in the treatment of depression. Limitations include small sample sizes and heterogeneous methodology. The exact mechanism by which the gut microbiota causes or alters neuropsychiatric disease states is not fully understood. In this review, we focus on recent studies investigating the relationship between gut microbiome dysbiosis and the pathogenesis of depression. This article is based on previously conducted studies and does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Keywords: Depression; Dysbiosis; Gut microbiome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis / physiopathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans