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Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: part III – convergence toward clinical trials

Alison C Bested1, Alan C Logan2* and Eva M Selhub3

Author Affiliations

1 Complex Chronic Diseases Program, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, B223A-4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3N1, Canada

2 CAMNR, 775 Blithedale Avenue Suite 364, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA

3 Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, 40 Crescent St., Suite 201, Waltham, MA, 02453, USA

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Gut Pathogens 2013, 5:4  doi:10.1186/1757-4749-5-4

Published: 16 March 2013


Rapid scientific and technological advances have allowed for a more detailed understanding of the relevance of intestinal microbiota, and the entire body-wide microbiome, to human health and well-being. Rodent studies have provided suggestive evidence that probiotics (e.g. lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) can influence behavior. More importantly, emerging clinical studies indicate that the administration of beneficial microbes, via supplementation and/or fecal microbial transplant (FMT), can influence end-points related to mood state (glycemic control, oxidative status, uremic toxins), brain function (functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI), and mental outlook (depression, anxiety). However, despite the advances in the area of gastro-biological psychiatry, it becomes clear that there remains an urgent need to explore the value of beneficial microbes in controlled clinical investigations. With the history explored in this series, it is fair to ask if we are now on the cusp of major clinical breakthroughs, or are we merely in the quicksand of Autointoxication II?

Intestinal microbiota; Autointoxication; Depression; Anxiety; Probiotics; Microbial ecology; Lipopolysaccharide endotoxin; Diet; Intestinal permeability; MMP-9; Microbial ecosystems