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Oncotarget. 2017 Sep 27;8(59):100899-100907. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.21284. eCollection 2017 Nov 21.

The role of microbiota in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option.

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The department of rehabilition, The Second Affiliated Hosptial of Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China.
Department of Psychiatry, Wenzhou Seventh People's Hospital, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China.
Department of Psychiatry, Tianjin Anding Hospital, Tianjin Mental Health Center, Tianjin, China.
Department of Psychological Medicine, Chinese People's Liberation Army, General Hospital, Chinese People's Liberation Army Medical School, Beijing, China.
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA.


The importance of interactions between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract has been increasingly recognized in recent years. It has been proposed that dysregulation and abnormalities in the brain-gut axis contribute to the etiology of a variety of central nervous system disorders. Particularly, dysbiosis, or impaired microbiota, has been implicated in multiple neurological and psychological disorders. The present paper reviews current evidence and theories concerning the possible mechanisms by which microbiota dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and major depressive disorder. Clinical trials that investigated the possibility of treating both illnesses by correcting and rebalancing microbiota with probiotics are also reviewed. Overall, despite the accumulated knowledge in this field, more studies are warranted and required to further our understanding of the brain-gut axis and the possibility of targeting microbiota as a treatment option for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.


brain-gut axis; depression; microbiota; psychiatric disorders; schizophrenia

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CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors declare no conflicts of interests

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