Probiotics for the treatment of depressive symptoms: An anti-inflammatory mechanism?
Brain Behav Immun. 2018 Jul 18. Epub 2018 Jul 18. PMID: 30009996
During the past decade, there has been renewed interest in the relationship between brain-based disorders, the gut microbiota, and the possible beneficial effects of probiotics. Emerging evidence suggests that modifying the composition of the gut microbiota via probiotic supplementation may be a viable adjuvant treatment option for individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Convergent evidence indicates that persistent low-grade inflammatory activation is associated with the diagnosis of MDD as well as the severity of depressive symptoms and probability of treatment response. The objectives of this review are to (1) evaluate the evidence supporting an anti-inflammatory effect of probiotics and (2) describe immune system modulation as a potential mechanism for the therapeutic effects of probiotics in populations with MDD. A narrative review of studies investigating the effects of probiotics on systemic inflammation was conducted. Studies were identified using PubMed/Medline, Google Scholar, and clinicaltrials.gov (from inception to November 2017) using the following search terms (and/or variants): probiotic, inflammation, gut microbiota, and depression. The available evidence suggests that probiotics should be considered a promising adjuvant treatment to reduce the inflammatory activation commonly found in MDD. Several controversial points remain to be addressed including the role of leaky gut, the role of stress exposure, and the role of blood-brain-barrier permeability. Taken together, the results of this review suggest that probiotics may be a potentially beneficial, but insufficiently studied, antidepressant treatment intervention.