Deakin University

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From “Leaky Gut” to Impaired Glia-Neuron Communication in Depression

posted on 2022-09-30, 01:09 authored by L Rudzki, Michael Maes
In the last three decades, the robust scientific data emerged, demonstrating that the immune-inflammatory response is a fundamental component of the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). Psychological stress and various inflammatory comorbidities contribute to such immune activation. Still, this is not uncommon that patients with depression do not have defined inflammatory comorbidities, and alternative mechanisms of immune activation need to take place. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract, along with gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), constitutes the largest lymphatic organ in the human body and forms the biggest surface of contact with the external environment. It is also the most significant source of bacterial and food-derived antigenic material. There is a broad range of reciprocal interactions between the GI tract, intestinal microbiota, increased intestinal permeability, activation of immune-inflammatory response, and the CNS that has crucial implications in brain function and mental health. This intercommunication takes place within the microbiota-gut-immune-glia (MGIG) axis, and glial cells are the main orchestrator of this communication. A broad range of factors, including psychological stress, inflammation, dysbiosis, may compromise the permeability of this barrier. This leads to excessive bacterial translocation and the excessive influx of food-derived antigenic material that contributes to activation of the immune-inflammatory response and depressive psychopathology. This chapter summarizes the role of increased intestinal permeability in MDD and mechanisms of how the “leaky gut” may contribute to immune-inflammatory response in this disorder.


Title of book

Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology




129 - 155