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Emerging evidence demonstrates that alterations to the gut microbiota can affect mood, suggesting that the microbiota–gut–brain (MGB) axis contributes to the pathogenesis of depression. Many of these pathways overlap with the way in which the gut microbiota are thought to contribute to metabolic disease progression and obesity. In rodents, prebiotics and probiotics have been shown to modulate the composition and function of the gut microbiota. Together with germ-free rodent models, probiotics have provided compelling evidence for a causal relationship between microbes, microbial metabolites, and altered neurochemical signalling and inflammatory pathways in the brain. In humans, probiotic supplementation has demonstrated modest antidepressant effects in individuals with depressive symptoms, though more studies in clinically relevant populations are needed. This review critically discusses the role of the MGB axis in depression pathophysiology, integrating preclinical and clinical evidence, as well as the putative routes of communication between the microbiota–gut interface and the brain. A critical overview of the current approaches to investigating microbiome changes in depression is provided. To effectively translate preclinical breakthroughs in MGB axis research into novel therapies, rigorous placebo-controlled trials alongside a mechanistic and biochemical understanding of prebiotic and probiotic action are required from future research.

Original publication




Journal article





Publication Date





1880 - 1880