Could changing the intestinal microbiota treat bipolar disorder?

The intestinal microbiota may be a therapeutic target in treatment for bipolar disorder, according to a recent study.


Several studies have shown the effectiveness of therapies based on the manipulation of the microbiota (fecal transplant, probiotics, prebiotics) in treating psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety. Bipolar disorder may be the next to benefit from the same therapeutic approach.

Analysis of the intestinal microbiota of 179 individuals (bipolar subjects and healthy subjects) participating in a study on the disease showed a significant difference in the composition between people with the disease and healthy individuals. The intestinal flora of bipolar subjects contained around a third less bacteria from the Faecalibacterium group, which has known anti-inflammatory properties. The bacteria is also underrepresented in various other diseases, like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, chronic idiopathic diarrhea, in hospitalized elderly and/or fragile people, and in people with depression. Their data suggest, however, that a therapeutic modification to the microbiota aiming to increase the proportion of Faecalibacterium may be useful in order to reduce the disease’s effects. The authors specify that these hypotheses need to be confirmed in clinical trials.


Sources :

Evans et al. The gut microbiome composition associates with bipolar disorder and illness severity. Journal of Psychiatric Research 87 (2017) 23-29.