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MDPI, Journal of Clinical Medicine, 4(10), p. 647, 2021

DOI: 10.3390/jcm10040647



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Updated Review and Meta-Analysis of Probiotics for the Treatment of Clinical Depression: Adjunctive vs. Stand-Alone Treatment

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the use of gut microbiota-targeting interventions, such as probiotics, for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. The objective of this update review was to evaluate all randomised controlled clinical trial evidence on the efficacy of probiotics for clinical depression. Cochrane guidelines for updated reviews were followed. By searching PubMed and Web of Science databases, we identified 546 new records since our previous review. A total of seven studies met selection criteria, capturing 404 people with depression. A random effects meta-analysis using treatment type (stand-alone vs. adjunctive) as subgroup was performed. The results demonstrated that probiotics are effective in reducing depressive symptoms when administered in addition to antidepressants (SMD = 0.83, 95%CI 0.49–1.17), however, they do not seem to offer significant benefits when used as stand-alone treatment (SMD = −0.02, 95%CI −0.34–0.30). Potential mechanisms of action may be via increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and decreases in C-reactive protein (CRP), although limited evidence is available at present. This review offers stronger evidence to support the clinical use of probiotics in depressed populations and provides an insight into the mode of administration more likely to yield antidepressant effects.