In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers have identified a potential link between microbes (viruses, bacteria and fungi) in the throat and schizophrenia. This link may offer a way to identify causes and develop treatments of the disease and lead to new diagnostic tests. The research was published in the journal PeerJ.
Recent studies have shown that microbiomes - the communities of microbes living within our bodies - can affect the immune system and may be connected to mental health. Research linking immune disorders and schizophrenia has also been published, and this study furthers the possibility that shifts in oral communities are associated with schizophrenia.
The researchers sought to identify microbes associated with schizophrenia, as well as components that may be associated with or contribute to changes in the immune state of the person. The group found a significant difference in the microbiomes of healthy and schizophrenic patients.
"Our results suggesting a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require replication and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation," the researchers said. "But the results are quite intriguing and suggest potential applications of biomarkers for diagnosis of schizophrenia and important metabolic pathways associated with the disease."
The study helps to identify possible contributing factors to schizophrenia. With additional studies, researchers may be able to determine if microbiome changes are a contributing factor to schizophrenia, are a result of schizophrenia or do not have a connection to the disorder.
Based on material originally posted by George Washington University.