Introduction: The composition of the microbiome is subject to a variety of factors, such as eating behavior and the history of medical treatment. The interest in the impact of the microbiome on the stress response is mainly explained by the lack of development of new effective treatments for stress-related diseases. This scoping review aims to present the current state of research regarding the impact of bacterial strains in the gut on the stress response in humans in order to not only highlight these impacts but to also suggest potential intervention options.
Methods: We included full-text articles on studies that: (a) were consistent with our research question; and (b) included the variable stress either using biomedical parameters such as cortisol or by examining the subjective stress level. Information from selected studies was synthesized from study designs and the main findings.
Results: Seven studies were included, although they were heterogenous. The results of these studies do not allow a general statement about the effects of the selected bacterial strains on the stress response of the subjects and their precise pathways of action. However, one of the works gives evidence that the consumption of probiotics leads to a decrease in blood pressure and others show that stress-induced symptoms (including abdominal pain and headache) in healthy subjects could be reduced.
Conclusion: Due to different intake period and composition of the bacterial strains administered to the subjects, the studies presented here can only provide a limited meaningful judgement. As these studies included healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 60 years, a generalization to clinical populations is also not recommended. In order to confirm current effects and implement manipulation of the microbiome as a treatment method for clinical cases, future studies would benefit from examining the effects of the intestinal microbiome on the stress response in a clinical setting.
Keywords: mental health; microbiome; probiotics; stress response; stress-induced diseases.