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How gut bacteria may affect anxiety

Tiny molecules could be key to microbes’ long-distance effect on the brain

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3:20pm, August 29, 2017
illustration of human gut

GUT REACTION  Scientists may have identified the molecular operatives in the brain that help gut bacteria influence anxiety levels from afar.

Tiny molecules in the brain may help gut bacteria hijack people’s emotions.

Bacteria living in the human gut have strange influence over mood, depression and more, but it has been unclear exactly how belly-dwelling bacteria exercise remote control of the brain (SN: 4/2/16, p. 23). Now research in rodents suggests that gut microbes may alter the inventory of microRNAs — molecules that help keep cells in working order by managing protein production — in brain regions involved in controlling anxiety.

The findings, reported online August 25 in Microbiome, could help scientists develop new treatments for some mental health problems.

Mounting evidence indicates “that the way we think and feel might be able to be controlled by our gut microbiota,” says

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