A new study has identified a potential link between the microbiome of the throat and the risk of schizophrenia. A team of scientists from George Washington University has concluded that viruses, bacteria and fungi living in the throat can affect a person's mental health.
"The oropharynx of schizophrenics seems to harbor different proportions of oral bacteria than healthy individuals," Eduardo Castro-Nallar of George Washington University, the study's lead author, said in a press release Tuesday. "Specifically, our analyses revealed an association between microbes such as lactic-acid bacteria and schizophrenics."
Previous research has linked immune disorders and schizophrenia, and other studies have found that the throat biome can affect the body’s immune system.
Castro-Nallar's research looked into microbes that were linked to schizophrenia, and other factors that could cause a change in the immune system. The team’s research found a significant difference between the microbiota found in the throats of healthy people and schizophrenics. The results of their study were published in the journal PeerJ.
"Our results suggesting a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require replication and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation," contributing author Keith Crandall, said in the statement. “But the results are quite intriguing and suggest potential applications of biomarkers for diagnosis of schizophrenia and important metabolic pathways associated with the disease."
While the scientists said that a link between the two existed, they were unable to pointedly identify whether the microbiome changes contribute to the mental illness or vice versa.