New research uncovers the role of gut microbes in anorexia nervosa

In the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, it was suggested by a team at the University of Oxford of a possible conjunctive role between gut microbes and the onset of symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa.

Commonly affecting women, their new study showed that gut microbes may be correlated with appetite and weight, along with other psychological symptoms, like anxiety, associated with anorexia nervosa. But it is unknown if anorexia in patients is the result of a microbial imbalance or simply the outcome of a severe food restriction.

To learn more about the role of microbes in anorexia, researchers examined rodents.

According to co-author Ana Ghenciulescu, as stated in a news release of the findings, “In a mouse study, researchers transferred fecal samples from anorexia patients to the guts of mice with no microbiome of their own.”

Ghenciulescu also stated: “Such mice gained less weight and developed more anxious and compulsive behaviors compared with mice who received feces from healthy patients. This suggests that their altered gut bacteria might be contributing to similar symptoms in anorexia patients as well.”

The findings might lead to the development of microbial treatments for eating disorders, like anorexia, but warrants further research.

The study was authored by Ana Ghenciulescu, Rebecca Park, and Philip Burnet.

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