While some people might relish the prospect of a new year party, for others socialising can trigger feelings of fear, anxiety and distress. Now researchers say microbes in the gut may play a role in causing social anxiety disorder, opening up fresh possibilities for therapies.
Scientists have previously found the gut microbiome – the collection of bacteria and other organisms that live in the gastrointestinal system – differs for people who have social anxiety disorder (SAD) compared with healthy individuals, while a growing body of research has revealed that microbes in the gut can influence the brain – and vice versa.
Now researchers have found that when microbes from the guts of people with SAD are transplanted into mice, the animals have an increased response to social fear.
Prof John Cryan, a co-author of the research from University College Cork, said that while it was known that genetics, the environment and other factors could also play a role in disorders including SAD, the new work highlighted the importance of our gut flora. [Continue reading…]