Alcohol, microbiome, and their effect on psychiatric disorders

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Abstract

There is accumulating evidence that alcohol consumption and especially alcohol withdrawal increase brain levels of known innate immune signaling molecules and cause neuroinflammation. It has been shown that microbiota play a pivotal role in this process and affect central neurochemistry and behavior. Disruption of or alterations in the intimate cross-talk between microbiome and brain may be a significant factor in many psychiatric disorders. Alterations in the composition of the microbiome, so called dysbiosis, may result in detrimental distortion of microbe-host homeostasis modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. A variety of pathologies are associated with changes in the community structure and function of the gut microbiota, suggesting a link between dysbiosis and disease etiology, including irritable bowel syndrome depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and alcoholism. Despite a paucity of clinical studies in alcohol-dependent humans, emerging data suggests that alcohol induced alterations of the microbiome may explain reward-seeking behaviors as well as anxiety, depression, and craving in withdrawal and increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

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