What is it about?

Understanding the biological basis of social anxiety disorder (SAD), one of the most disabling of the anxiety disorders, will allow for novel treatment strategies to be developed. Here, we show that gut microbiota may be such a target. Mice that received SAD patient microbiota had a specific heightened sensitivity to social fear without affecting other behaviours tested. This distinct deficit in normal social fear responses was coupled with changes in immunity and the brain.

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Why is it important?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a crippling psychiatric disorder characterized by intense fear or anxiety in social situations and their avoidance. However, the underlying biology of SAD is unclear and better treatments are needed. Recently, the gut microbiota has emerged as a key regulator of both brain and behaviour, especially those related to social function.


This work demonstrates an interkingdom basis for social fear responses and posits the microbiome as a potential therapeutic target for SAD.

Prof. John Cryan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Social anxiety disorder-associated gut microbiota increases social fear, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, December 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2308706120.
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