A new study has fond that people with Schizophrenia have different throat bacteria. The scientific community is buzzing with excitement as the newly discovered link could lead to the development of better, more efficient treatments for the neuro-psychiatric disorder.
A team of researchers from the George Washington University (Washington, DC) inform that a people with Schizophrenia seems to have different amounts of oral bacteria in a throat area know as “the oropharynx”, compared to people without the disorder. People may recognize the oropharynx as the throat area located at the back of a person’s mouth.
Eduardo Castro-Nallar, lead author on the study, gave a statement mention that “Specifically, our analyses revealed an association between microbes such as lactic acid bacteria and schizophrenics”.
The finding is significant as an increasing number of modern studies suggest that throat bacteria and fungi are closely linked to brain development, brain cognition and behavior, and can even trigger mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Adding Schizophrenia to this list is not that big of a stretch. While the disorder is significantly more complex than depression or anxiety, it’s a prime example of mental health issues. Schizophrenia is characterized by distorted perceptions, damaged cognitive functioning and damaged emotional responses.
For the study, Castro-Nallar and his team looked at the bacteria, fungi and viruses found in the oropharynx areas of 16 people with Schizophrenia and 16 people without the disorder. The second set of subjects also acted as a control group for the first.
When the researchers compared the results from the two sets of subjects, they noticed a significant difference between them. The people without Schizophrenia had more species of bacteria, fungi and viruses than the ones with the disorder, and the distribution of these life forms was also less even in the control group.
One particular trait of the subjects with Schizophrenia was that they had more actic acid bacteria, such as different types of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium, both of them species which have previously been linked to anxiety and inflammation modulation.
Schizophrenia patients also had more Candida Dubliniensis fungal species. The research team speculates that these may be linked to either changes in the patient’s local environment, or to altered immune responses.
Keith Crandall, director of the Computational Biology Institute from the George Washington University, gave a statement of his own explaining that the discovery he and his colleagues made suggest the existence of “a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require replication and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation”.
However, he went on to add that he is not discouraged by the need for further research as the results of the study are pretty intriguing and have a good chance of leading to the development of diagnosing methods that use biomarkers to spot schizophrenia.
The findings were published earlier this week, in the medical journal PeerJ.
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