The gut-microbiota-brain axis in a Spanish population in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic: microbiota composition linked to anxiety, trauma, and depression profiles

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PMID PubMed identifier for scientific articles.
DOI Digital object identifier for electronic documents.
Malan-Müller S, Valles-Colomer M, Palomo T, Leza JC
Gut microbes
COVID-19, Microbiome, anxiety, depression, gut-microbiota-brain axis, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder, trauma
The prevalence of anxiety and depression soared following the COVID-19 pandemic. To effectively treat these conditions, a comprehensive understanding of all etiological factors is needed. This study investigated fecal microbial features associated with mental health outcomes (symptoms of anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)) in a Spanish cohort in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Microbial communities from stool samples were profiled in 198 individuals who completed validated, self-report questionnaires. 16S ribosomal RNA gene V3-4 amplicon sequencing was performed. Microbial diversity and community structure were analyzed, together with relative taxonomic abundance. In our cohort of N=198, 17.17% reported depressive symptoms, 37.37% state anxiety symptoms, 40.90% trait anxiety symptoms, and 8.08% PTSD symptoms, with high levels of comorbidity. Individuals with trait anxiety had lower Simpson's diversity. Fusicatenibacter saccharivorans was reduced in individuals with comorbid PTSD + depression + state and trait anxiety symptoms, whilst an expansion of Proteobacteria and depletion of Synergistetes phyla were noted in individuals with depressive symptoms. The relative abundance of Anaerostipes was positively correlated with childhood trauma, and higher levels of Turicibacter sanguinis and lower levels of Lentisphaerae were found in individuals who experienced life-threatening traumas. COVID-19 infection and vaccination influenced the overall microbial composition and were associated with distinct relative taxonomic abundance profiles. These findings will help lay the foundation for future studies to identify microbial role players in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD and provide future therapeutic targets to improve mental health outcomes.

Experiment 1

Needs review

Curated date: 2023/10/29

Curator: Wangui Thuo

Revision editor(s): Wangui Thuo, Chinelsy


Location of subjects
Host species Species from which microbiome was sampled. Contact us to have more species added.
Homo sapiens
Body site Anatomical site where microbial samples were extracted from according to the Uber Anatomy Ontology
Feces Cow dung,Cow pat,Droppings,Dung,Excrement,Excreta,Faeces,Fecal material,Fecal matter,Fewmet,Frass,Guano,Matières fécales@fr,Merde@fr,Ordure,Partie de la merde@fr,Piece of shit,Porción de mierda@es,Portion of dung,Portion of excrement,Portion of faeces,Portion of fecal material,Portion of fecal matter,Portion of feces,Portion of guano,Portion of scat,Portionem cacas,Scat,Spoor,Spraint,Stool,Teil der fäkalien@de,Feces
Condition The experimental condition / phenotype studied according to the Experimental Factor Ontology
psychiatric disorder disease of mental health,mental disorder,mental dysfunction,mental illness,Psychiatric disease,Psychiatric disorder,psychiatric disorder
Group 0 name Corresponds to the control (unexposed) group for case-control studies
Healthy controls (good mental health)
Group 1 name Corresponds to the case (exposed) group for case-control studies
Psychiatric Symptoms
Group 1 definition Diagnostic criteria applied to define the specific condition / phenotype represented in the case (exposed) group
This group included individuals who suffered from at least one or a combination of the psychiatric symptoms assessed (depression, state and trait anxiety, and PTSD)
Group 0 sample size Number of subjects in the control (unexposed) group
Group 1 sample size Number of subjects in the case (exposed) group
Antibiotics exclusion Number of days without antibiotics usage (if applicable) and other antibiotics-related criteria used to exclude participants (if any)
6 months.

Lab analysis

Sequencing type
16S variable region One or more hypervariable region(s) of the bacterial 16S gene
Sequencing platform Manufacturer and experimental platform used for quantifying microbial abundance

Statistical Analysis

Data transformation Data transformation applied to microbial abundance measurements prior to differential abundance testing (if any).
relative abundances
Statistical test
Mann-Whitney (Wilcoxon)
Significance threshold p-value or FDR threshold used for differential abundance testing (if any)
MHT correction Have statistical tests be corrected for multiple hypothesis testing (MHT)?
Confounders controlled for Confounding factors that have been accounted for by stratification or model adjustment
age, body mass index, sex

Alpha Diversity

Simpson Estimator of species richness and species evenness: more weight on species evenness