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Psychobiotic interventions for anxiety in young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis, with youth consultation

Cohen Kadosh, K., Basso, M., Knytl, P., Johnstone, N., Lau, J. Y.F. and Gibson, G. R. (2021) Psychobiotic interventions for anxiety in young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis, with youth consultation. Translational Psychiatry, 11. 352. ISSN 2158-3188

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41398-021-01422-7


The human gut microbiome influence on brain function and mental health is an emerging area of intensive research. Animal and human research indicates adolescence as a sensitive period when the gut-brain axis is fine-tuned, where dietary interventions to change the microbiome may have long-lasting consequences for mental health. This study reports a systematic review and meta-analysis of microbiota-targeted (psychobiotics) interventions on anxiety in youth, with discussion of a consultation on the acceptability of psychobiotic interventions for mental health management amongst youth with lived experience. Six databases were searched for controlled trials in human samples (age range: 10–24 years) seeking to reduce anxiety. Post intervention outcomes were extracted as standard mean differences (SMDs) and pooled based on a random-effects model. 5416 studies were identified: 14 eligible for systematic review and 10 eligible for meta-analysis (total of 324 experimental and 293 control subjects). The meta-analysis found heterogeneity I2 was 12% and the pooled SMD was −0.03 (95% CI: −0.21, 0.14), indicating an absence of effect. One study presented with low bias risk, 5 with high, and 4 with uncertain risk. Accounting for risk, sensitivities analysis revealed a SMD of −0.16 (95% CI: −0.38, 0.07), indicative of minimal efficacy of psychobiotics for anxiety treatment in humans. There is currently limited evidence for use of psychobiotics to treat anxiety in youth. However, future progress will require a multidisciplinary research approach, which gives priority to specifying mechanisms in the human models, providing causal understanding, and addressing the wider context, and would be welcomed by anxious youths.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Food Microbial Sciences Research Group
ID Code:102739


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