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Researchers identify signature of microbiomes associated with schizophrenia...

Stashed in: Brain, Awesome, Health Studies, Microbiome, Mental Health, Mental Health, Schizophrenia

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In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers at the George Washington University have identified a potential link between microbes (viruses, bacteria and fungi) in the throat and schizophrenia.

This link may offer a way to identify causes and develop treatments of the disease and lead to new diagnostic tests.

“The oropharynx of schizophrenics seems to harbor different proportions of oral bacteria than healthy individuals,” said Eduardo Castro-Nallar, a Ph.D. candidate at GW’s Computational Biology Institute (CBI) and lead author of the study. “Specifically, our analyses revealed an association between microbes such as lactic-acid bacteria and schizophrenics.”

Recent studies have shown that microbiomes–the communities of microbes living within our bodies–can affect the immune system and may be connected to mental health. Research linking immune disorders and schizophrenia has also been published, and this study furthers the possibility that shifts in oral communities are associated with schizophrenia.

Mr. Castro-Nallar’s research sought to identify microbes associated with schizophrenia, as well as components that may be associated with or contribute to changes in the immune state of the person. In this study, the group found a significant difference in the microbiomes of healthy and schizophrenic patients.

“Our results suggesting a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require replication and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation,” said Keith Crandall, director of the CBI and contributing author of the study. “But the results are quite intriguing and suggest potential applications of biomarkers for diagnosis of schizophrenia and important metabolic pathways associated with the disease.”

Top Reddit comment:

Ok so they have sixteen subjects and sixteen controls, that's good. But it's still almost impossible to say that there is a link between the schizophrenia and the microbiome. For instance I imagine the financial costs of living with schizophrenia may impact on the diet and kinds of foods available to sufferers, which would have a major impact on the microbiome. I would imagine a fair share of the subjects would be on medication which would very likely change the pH of the GIT, again changing the micro flora present. I would say this study needs to be bigger and on more categories.

This is fascinating. (The Top Reddit Comment seems a little bit ridiculous though.)

I think the top Reddit comment is skeptical and wants more research.

I'm not skeptical but I want more research too.

Because like you I find this fascinating.

Skepticism and more research is fine but the "different diet of those with schizophrenia" seems like a childish response relative to researchers at George Washington University.

Well, yeah. There's a reason Reddit is Reddit and not a world class science institution.

Still, I give Reddit props because without them I would not have found this article. 

As I scientist, I value skepticism. As a human, I fear cynicism. So did Greek philosophers who compared them to dogs. Thus their name. Increased understanding of microbiome-brain relationships is a quite promising area of investigation even by preliminary studies. Any assault on scientific orthodoxy is healthy, and mind-body dualism is a tempting and shoddy fortification. Good scientists don't snark!

ronald hayes

Well said, Ron. 

And I think this connection between schizophrenia and the microbiome can lead to new therapies, which is potentially a very big deal.

I appreciate PandaWhale because it takes all the good from Reddit and other sites without all the drivel! It's like the best curated site so I don't have to be assaulted by crap when I'm wanting to spend a few moments on interesting reads.

Aww, you get us. You really get us.

Sometimes our homepage has more frivolous stuff on it (like right now), which is why following the stashes you're interested in is sometimes more fun than visiting the front page. 

But overall yes our quality is way higher than just about any place I visit. 

Because we do try to find the best. :)

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