13 Microbial Taxa More Abundant in People With Depressive Symptoms

Findings from a new gut microbiome-wide association study have identified a dozen bacterial groups and 1 microbial family consistently associated with depressive symptoms in the general population. Researchers reported their findings online in Nature Communications.

"These bacteria are known to be involved in the synthesis of glutamate, butyrate, serotonin, and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which are key neurotransmitters for depression," wrote a research team from the Netherlands. "Our study suggests that the gut microbiome composition may play a key role in depression."

The study included a total 2593 participants. Researchers first investigated fecal microbiome diversity and composition as well as depressive symptoms in 1054 participants from the long-term population Rotterdam Study. They next validated the findings in 1539 participants from Amsterdam in the Helius (Healthy Life in an Urban Setting) study.

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People with higher depressive symptoms had more abundant levels of the following 12 microbial genera: Sellimonas, Eggerthella, Ruminococcaceae (UCG002, UCG003, UCG005), Lachnoclostridium, Hungatella, Coprococcus, LachnospiraceaeUCG001, Ruminococcusgauvreauiigroup, Eubacterium ventriosum, and Subdoligranulum. The microbial family Ruminococcaceae was also associated with depressive symptoms, according to the study.

Conversely, all other taxa were depleted in people with depressive symptoms, researchers reported.

"These results therefore clearly provide direction for future research into possible treatments, such as the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics, or fecal microbiota transplantation as well as changes to lifestyle and diet," said researcher Anja Lok, MD, PhD, of the Amsterdam University Medical Centers Department of Psychiatry.

“[A] limitation of this study is using different methods for stool sampling and sequencing variable regions. These factors might influence the microbial profiles substantially,” researchers concluded. “However, despite the differences there is a significant overlap and consistency in effect estimates between the discovery and the replication cohorts. The overlapping results of this study are, therefore, of greater importance, as they are consistent despite methodological differences.”


Radjabzadeh D, Bosch JA, Uitterlinden AG, et al. Gut microbiome-wide association study of depressive symptoms. Nat Commun. Published online December 6, 2022. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-34502-3

Microbiome composition influences depression. News release. University of Amsterdam; December 7, 2022. Accessed December 12, 2022.