Stefania Blasa MicrobiotaMi

MicrobiotaMi Comment 22_21  by Stefania Blasa

Related Journal Article:  Inulin ameliorates schizophrenia via modulation of the gut microbiota and anti-inflammation in mice.

This article was published in the: Food Funct. 2021 Feb 15;12(3):1156-1175. doi: 10.1039/d0fo02778b. PMID: 33432310

Investigating the potential effects of inulin on gut microbiota of schizophrenia-affected mice

Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder, which causes psychosis in 1% of worldwide patients, disability and socioeconomic burdens on public health. Its etiology is multifactorial and includes genetic causes and environmental risk factors.

The gut-brain axis influences neurotransmission, neurogenesis, blood-brain barrier development, myelination and can modulates cognitive functions and behaviour. Neuroinflammation and microbiota dysfunction are largely observed in schizophrenia-affected patients, thus, the potential role of the gut-brain axis in this pathology have received great attention in the last years.

Inulin is a natural fructan used in food and pharmaceuticals as prebiotic and dietary fiber. Different biological functions of inulin have been demonstrated in the last few years, as the ability to stimulate some bacteria such as lactobacillus or bifidobacterium through the modulation of the gut microbiota. However, the exact effects of inulin on gut-brain axis remain so far unknown.

In this study, Guo and colleagues investigated the potential effects of inulin on gut microbiota and neuroinflammation of schizophrenic mice, to verify if this fructan could contribute to develop a new medical treatment for this pathology.

 Results indicated that inulin could control metabolic balance of mice through the regulation of body weight and could improve the intestinal microenvironment by changing the abundance of the gut microbiota and their metabolites, with a protective effect on the intestinal mucosal barrier. Moreover, inulin could regulate intestinal microbiota through the gut-brain axis by affecting the transmission of brain synapses, leading to different behavioural and cognitive instructions. In fact, after 6 weeks of treatment, the number of rearing and total distance in SCZ mice were significantly increased compared to the control. Inulin treatment could also contribute to alleviate neuronal necrosis in mice and could have a beneficial effect on activated microglia, as seen in treated SCZ group, in which the proportions of activated and resting microglial cells is decreased compared to the control. Finally, inulin could improve intestinal integrity and permeability by increasing the length of the villi in the intestinal cavity and alleviating endotoxemia and inflammation.

As a new treatment, it needs to be explored to overcome the possible limitations and to better understand its specific mechanisms of function. However, this study highlighted that inulin could contribute to modulate the gut microbiota and have an anti-inflammatory effect in schizophrenia-affected mice, providing a theoretical foundation for future intervention in the treatment of schizophrenia.

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