Alteration of Gut Microbiome in Patients With Schizophrenia Indicates Links Between Bacterial Tyrosine Biosynthesis and Cognitive Dysfunction

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  • Florence Thirion
  • Tue Haldor Hansen
  • Trine Nielsen
  • Emmanuelle Le Chatelier
  • Sébastien Fromentin
  • Magali Berland
  • Florian Plaza Oñate
  • Nicolas Pons
  • Nathalie Galleron
  • Florence Levenez
  • Lajos Markó
  • Till Birkner
  • Torben Jørgensen
  • Sofia K. Forslund
  • Ole Mors
  • Stanislav D. Ehrlich

Background: Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a heterogeneous neuropsychiatric disorder for which current treatment has insufficient efficacy and severe adverse effects. The modifiable gut microbiome might be a potential target for intervention to improve neurobiological functions through the gut-microbiome-brain axis. Methods: In this case-control study, gut microbiota of 132 patients with SCZ and increased waist circumference were compared with gut microbiota of two age- and sex-matched control groups, composed of 132 healthy individuals and 132 individuals with metabolic syndrome. Shotgun sequencing was used to characterize fecal samples at the taxonomic and functional levels. Cognition of the patients with SCZ was evaluated using the Brief Assessment of Cognition instrument. Results: SCZ gut microbiota differed significantly from those of healthy control subjects and individuals with metabolic syndrome in terms of richness and global composition. SCZ gut microbiota were notably enriched in Flavonifractor plautii, Collinsella aerofaciens, Bilophila wadsworthia, and Sellimonas intestinalis, while depleted in Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Ruminococcus lactaris, Ruminococcus bicirculans, and Veillonella rogosae. Functional potential of the gut microbiota accounted for 11% of cognition variability. In particular, the bacterial functional module for synthesizing tyrosine, a precursor for dopamine, was in SCZ cases positively associated with cognitive score (ρ = 0.34, q ≤ .1). Conclusions: Overall, this study shows that the gut microbiome of patients with SCZ differs greatly from that of healthy control subjects or individuals with metabolic syndrome. Cognitive function of patients with SCZ is associated with the potential for gut bacterial biosynthesis of tyrosine, a precursor for dopamine, suggesting that gut microbiota might be an intervention target for alleviation of cognitive dysfunction in SCZ.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Psychiatry Global Open Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Case-control study, Cognition, Gut microbiome, Metagenomics, Schizophrenia, Tyrosine biosynthesis

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