Other Gut microbiome predicts cognitive function and depressive symptoms in late life (Apr 2024, n=268)

Michael Harrop

Active member
Jul 6, 2023


Depression in older adults with cognitive impairment increases progression to dementia. Microbiota is associated with current mood and cognition, but the extent to which it predicts future symptoms is unknown.

In this work, we identified microbial features that reflect current and predict future cognitive and depressive symptoms. Clinical assessments and stool samples were collected from 268 participants with varying cognitive and depressive symptoms. Seventy participants underwent 2-year follow-up.

Microbial community diversity, structure, and composition were assessed using high-resolution 16 S rRNA marker gene sequencing. We implemented linear regression to characterize the relationship between microbiome composition, current cognitive impairment, and depressive symptoms. We leveraged elastic net regression to discover features that reflect current or future cognitive function and depressive symptoms.

Greater microbial community diversity associated with lower current cognition in the whole sample, and greater depression in participants not on antidepressants. Poor current cognitive function associated with lower relative abundance of Bifidobacterium, while greater GABA degradation associated with greater current depression severity. Future cognitive decline associated with lower cognitive function, lower relative abundance of Intestinibacter, lower glutamate degradation, and higher baseline histamine synthesis. Future increase in depressive symptoms associated with higher baseline depression and anxiety, lower cognitive function, diabetes, lower relative abundance of Bacteroidota, and lower glutamate degradation.

Our results suggest cognitive dysfunction and depression are unique states with an overall biological effect detectable through gut microbiota. The microbiome may present a noninvasive readout and prognostic tool for cognitive and psychiatric states.
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