What is it about?

Microbial imbalances have been linked to major depressive disorders, but the mechanisms affecting mood remain poorly understood. This study reveals a new gut-brain pathway whereby the gut microbiome, by producing bacterial signals, called "quorum sensing molecules" promotes depression..

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that the induction of quorum sensing signals after stress lead to the production of a T helper cell population (Th17 cells) in the gut, which then infiltrate the brain to promote depressive-like behaviors in mice. The same pathway activation was also found in human fecal samples of patients with depression. The findings could point the way toward potential therapies targeting the signal pattern or enhancing an individual’s mood through a healthy diet.


This paper was the result of a collaborative effort involving experts in the fields of Psychiatry, Biochemistry and Immunology. It is particularly exciting that this study is the first to report a contribution of quorum sensing molecules in higher organisms, such as mammals, in regulating host responses, and these findings provide potential new therapeutic targets to modulate the microbiome in depression, one of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases.

Eleonore Beurel
University of Miami

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Identification of a Signaling Mechanism by Which the Microbiome Regulates Th17 Cell-Mediated Depressive-Like Behaviors in Mice, American Journal of Psychiatry, October 2020, American Psychiatric Association, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19090960.
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