Gastrointestinal symptoms, gut microbiome, probiotics and prebiotics in Anorexia Nervosa: a review of mechanistic rationale and clinical evidence

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Abstract

Recent research has revealed the pivotal role that the gut microbiota might play in psychiatric disorders. In anorexia nervosa (AN), the gut microbiota may be involved in pathophysiology as well as in the gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms commonly experienced. This review collates evidence for the potential role of gut microbiota in AN, including modulation of the immune system, the gut-brain axis and GI function. We examined studies comparing gut microbiota in AN with healthy controls as well as those looking at modifications in gut microbiota with nutritional treatment. Changes in energy intake and nutritional composition influence gut microbiota and may play a role in the evolution of the gut microbial picture in AN. Additionally, some evidence indicates that pre-morbid gut microbiota may influence risk of developing AN. There appear to be similarities in gut microbial composition, mechanisms of interaction and GI symptoms experienced in AN and other GI disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and functional GI disorders. Probiotics and prebiotics have been studied in these disorders showing therapeutic effects of probiotics in some cases. Additionally, some evidence exists for the therapeutic benefits of probiotics in depression and anxiety, commonly seen as co-morbidities in AN. Moreover, preliminary evidence for the use of probiotics in AN has shown positive effects on immune modulation. Based on these findings, we discuss the potential therapeutic role for probiotics in ameliorating symptoms in AN.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105959
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume147
Early online date28 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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