Gut-dwelling viruses may help manage stress, study finds

Gut-dwelling viruses may help manage stress, study finds


Scientists have proven that the brain and the gut can interact, and this will affect human behavior.

Such conclusions destroy the stereotype that all viruses are harmful to humans, writes The Guardian.

The results of the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology, suggest that there is a subset of viruses that live in the human gut and may play a crucial role in regulating stress.

This proves that a connection between the gut and the brain exists and can have an impact on human behavior. Such research will help scientists develop new treatments for stress conditions that target the vast community of viruses that live inside humans.

After conducting previous studies, scientists assumed that the composition of microbes that live in the intestine changes in response to stress. They mostly focused on bacteria, not on the “virome” (a collection of RNA and DNA that make up a group of viruses associated with a particular ecosystem).

Photo: Jezper/Depositphotos

“Almost unexplored is how the virus interacts with bacteria and how they affect stress-related health and disease. Our research opens up the potential to target the virus to treat and reduce the effects of stress.” said Dr Nathaniel Ritz from the APC Microbiome Ireland Research Center at University College Cork.

The team of scientists focused on the study of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria). They studied what happened to these viruses when the mice they housed were subjected to chronic social stress, such as being alone.

Scientists have discovered that exposure to stress led to changes in the composition of viruses and bacteria in the intestines of animals.

They then collected viruses from the excrement of non-stressed animals, and when the mice were subjected to chronic social stress, transplanted some of them back. Scientists found that these transplants reduced the level of stress hormones and changed the state of the mice, which was close to depression and anxiety.

This study provides some of the first evidence that gut viruses are involved in the stress response, and manipulating them may have therapeutic benefits. This question needs to be investigated further to find out whether the transplant of viruses can be useful in humans, the scientists say.

“Given that the composition of viruses varies from person to person, this may in the future give impetus to the application of personalized medical approaches to the treatment of stress-related disorders.

Certainly, we need to recognize that not all viruses are bad, and they can play an important role in keeping bad bacteria in our gut, especially during times of stress.” – noted John Cryan, a professor at the APC Microbiome Research Center.

We will remind you that stress due to finances has a more harmful effect on health than grief.

Read also: How to calm down and control stress? 6 methods



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