M.F. Dos Santos-Torres, C.D. López Vega¹, F Godoy Vitorino², and B.A. Torres Hernández³

1 University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras; Faculty of Natural Sciences

2 University of Puerto Rico; Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Campus

3 University of Puerto Rico; Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Medical Sciences


Introduction: It is known that the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiome can alter a person’s mood given the physiological connection between the gut and the brain known as the gut-brain axis. Microbiome studies aiming to uncover and understand the mechanisms underlying various aspects of psychiatric conditions have gained importance but are still in need of further research. Considering this, Hispanics-focused research in this area is scarce; nonetheless, psychiatric disorders are frequent among this ethnicity. Around 20 % Puerto Ricans are affected with a Mental Health condition such as anxiety disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder, to name the most frequent.

Purpose: We aim to determine the differences in gut microbiota composition of Puerto Ricans diagnosed with different psychiatric disorders and healthy cohorts.

Methods: Puerto Rican patients diagnosed with different psychiatric conditions will be recruited from private practice and clinics which offer mental health treatment. Healthy patients will be recruiting using advertisements and from previous healthy cohort. After signing the informed consent, a stool sample will be collected and stored at -80C. Genomic DNA extractions will be performed and the bacterial composition will be determined using variable region 4 of the16S rRNA genes, as per Human microbiome project protocols. Each participant will fill multiple questionnaires, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9 will be used to assess anxiety and depressive symptoms. The other questionnaires will gather information related to their lifestyle, quality of live, clinical data among other information.

Expected results: We expect to find gut dysbiosis in people diagnosed with different psychiatric conditions when compared to the healthy cohort. Likewise, we expect bacterial diversity and levels of anti-inflammatory bacteria to be significantly reduced in patients that present higher symptom severity. In addition, we expect bacterial diversity levels to differ between different psychiatric conditions.

Conclusion: The results will give associative information regarding the gut microbiota composition of Puerto Ricans with different psychiatric disorders. Identification and differentiation of bacterial species composition in this population will be used to further research in the field, into understanding the gut-brain axis’s role and importance in psychiatric disorders in this cohort.

Also, these results can provide valuable information for the use of personalized medicine in the treatment of patients with mental health conditions. The use of specific pre and probiotics or certain alimentation could be evaluated in future intervention. As we increase our knowledge about the gut-brain axis it can be used for greater insight into the causation of symptom severity and treatment response in Puerto Ricans with mental health conditions.

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