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Gut and biofluid specimens might hold key to anxiety relief

May 30, 2019

Woman with stomach ache

Anxiety often reveals itself as a stomach ache, but research suggests the script might be flippable: The gut might be able to help ease anxiety.

Three in 10 Americans have an anxiety disorder, such as agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, often affecting work, school and relationships.

Researchers in Shanghai reviewed 21 studies that looked at more than 1,500 people and found that more than half of those studies “showed that regulating intestinal flora can effectively improve anxiety symptoms.”

Researchers modified microbiota makeup

Broadly, there were two approaches to gut regulation: administering probiotics supplements and using a non-probiotics approach, e.g., changing the diet. The latter was found to be more effective, with six of the seven studies in this category showing positive findings.

Although the quality of the individual studies was deemed to be high, the researchers acknowledged that the observational study does not establish causation and that more studies are needed. Previous studies have shown that changing gut bacteria has changed the behavior of mice that had been exhibiting actions consistent with anxiety.

We  continue to explore gut-brain connections with patients and biospecimens

The microbiome consists of trillions of microbes – including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – whose genes outnumber those of the rest of our body by more than 200 times. We’ve blogged in the past on the gut-brain axis and the potential that someday the gut can help people with a wide range of brain-related conditions.

We’re committed to serving researchers who study the microbiome as they develop new treatments, cures and diagnostics. We can supply researchers with a range of human biospecimens for this work, including saliva, sputum and stool, as well as de-identified data about the patients from whom they came.

As researchers work to address anxiety in patients, we’re working to ease the anxiety of researchers, who have traditionally faced arduous biospecimen procurement challenges.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified tissue and biofluid biospecimens or to request a quote or custom collection. You can join for free and creating a login is easy.