Altered gut microbiota associated with symptom severity in schizophrenia

Shijia Li, Min Zhuo, Xia Huang, Yuanyuan Huang, Jing Zhou, Dongsheng Xiong, Jiahui Li, Ya Liu, Zhilin Pan, Hehua Li, Jun Chen, Xiaobo Li, Zhiming Xiang, Fengchun Wu, Kai Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: The gut microbiome and microbiome-gut-brain (MGB) axis have been receiving increasing attention for their role in the regulation of mental behavior and possible biological basis of psychiatric disorders. With the advance of next-generation sequencing technology, characterization of the gut microbiota in schizophrenia (SZ) patients can provide rich clues for the diagnosis and prevention of SZ. Methods: In this study, we compared the differences in the fecal microbiota between 82 SZ patients and 80 demographically matched normal controls (NCs) by 16S rRNA sequencing and analyzed the correlations between altered gut microbiota and symptom severity. Results: The alpha diversity showed no significant differences between the NC and SZ groups, but the beta diversity revealed significant community-level separation in microbiome composition between the two groups (pseudo-F =3.337, p < 0.001, uncorrected). At the phylum level, relatively more Actinobacteria and less Firmicutes (p < 0.05, FDR corrected) were found in the SZ group. At the genus level, the relative abundances of Collinsella, Lactobacillus, Succinivibrio, Mogibacterium, Corynebacterium, undefined Ruminococcus and undefined Eubacterium were significantly increased, whereas the abundances of Adlercreutzia, Anaerostipes, Ruminococcus and Faecalibacterium were decreased in the SZ group compared to the NC group (p < 0.05, FDR corrected). We performed PICRUSt analysis and found that several metabolic pathways differed significantly between the two groups, including the Polyketide sugar unit biosynthesis, Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine biosynthesis, Pantothenate and CoA biosynthesis, C5-Branched dibasic acid metabolism, Phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, Ascorbate and aldarate metabolism, Nucleotide metabolism and Propanoate metabolism pathways (p < 0.05, FDR corrected). Among the SZ group, the abundance of Succinivibrio was positively correlated with the total Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores (r = 0.24, p < 0.05, uncorrected) as well as the general PANSS scores (r = 0.22, p < 0.05, uncorrected); Corynebacterium was negatively related to the negative scores of PANSS (r = 0.22, p < 0.05, uncorrected). Conclusions: Our findings provided evidence of altered gut microbial composition in SZ group. In addition, we found that Succinvibrio and Corynebacterium were associated with the severity of symptoms for the first time, which may provide some new biomarkers for the diagnosis of SZ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9574
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • 16S rRNA sequencing
  • Gut microbiota
  • Microbiome-Gut-Brain axis
  • Schizophrenia


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