Probiota Asia 2019

Improving mood: Medlab underlines how microbiome modulation can improve cognitive disorders

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Probiotics supplementation could improve a dysbiotic gut, and in turn manage mood disorders, according to research from Medlab. ©Getty Images
Probiotics supplementation could improve a dysbiotic gut, and in turn manage mood disorders, according to research from Medlab. ©Getty Images

Related tags Australia Probiotics Brain health

Probiotics supplementation could improve a dysbiotic gut, and in turn manage mood disorders, including major depression.

This is according to scientific research findings from Professor Luis Vitetta, the director of medical research, and his team at Medlab Clinical.

He was speaking at Probiota Asia summit organised by NutraIngredients-Asia​ in Singapore, where he spoke in detail about the research conducted at the Australia-based firm.

The gut and the brain  

The gut microbiome is at the centre of modulating homeostasis and balance in organ physiology, Vitetta pointed out.

Homeostasis which is out of balance could in turn lead to a host of conditions, such as mood problems.

An important component linking brain to gut is the vagus nerve, which transports information from the gastrointestinal gut to the brain and vice versa.

Specifically, 80% of the vagus nerve afferent fibres transport information from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain, and 20% if the vagus nerve efferent fibres transport information from the brain to the gastrointestinal tract.

By reading the gut microbiome, the vagus nerve initiates a response to modulate inflammation based on its detection of a pathogenic or non-pathogenic organism.

In this way, the gut microbiome can exert an effect on a person’s mood and stress levels.

The orotate-uridine connect

Having establish the gut-brain relation, the firm went on to find out the components which affect mucosal immunity in the gut, one of which is uracil.

“We found that bacteria-derived uracil units could actually modulate mucosal immunity in the gut, and one can actually recover from inflammation in the gut associated with a particular mood disorder, whether it is anxiety or some form of depression,”​ Vivetta said.

This works when uridine metabolites present in the red blood cells are transported across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain.

When researching the pathway in which uridine is produced, the firm found that is converted from orotate and from here, established a connection between orotate and uridine.

The firm then conducted a pilot study to validate the ability of magnesium orotate supplementation for reducing depressive symptoms in patients who were not responding to anti-depression medications.  

After eight weeks of 1600mg of magnesium orotate supplementation, there was significant clinical improvement in the patients based on their BDI, OQ45, and QOL scores.

Speeding up with probiotics

In its research, the firm further found out the relationship between mitochondria and intestinal microbiota and probiotics in reducing depression symptoms.

In a recently published opinion article on Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Vitetta and his team pointed out the role of mitochondria as a potential mediator linking the intestinal microbiota to depression.

 “We found that the bacteria in the gut are intimately associated with mitochondria dysfunction.

“And the key mediator is a probiotic that carries the intestinal microbiome to overcome the dysbiotic effect,”​ he said.  

Based on the findings, the firm then went on to conduct another pilot study.

This time round, it looked at the combination of probiotics and magnesium orotate in attenuating depression in patients resistant to anti-depressant medication.  

In this study, there was a quicker response, with improvement seen at week four.

He explained that this was because the patients were recovering from a dysbiotic gut due to probiotics and also, the orotate uridine connection had helped to produce an improved output.

He concluded that probiotics was seen as an adjunctive medicine and “not a panacea to fix everything.”

Ongoing studies

Building on these findings, the firm has now invested in a million dollar clinical trial on its NRGBiotic supplement formula.

Containing magnesium orotate, coenzyme Q10, and three probiotic strains, the purpose is to find out the role of these compounds in managing depression.  

The appendix myth

In addition, Vitteta also highlighted findings on the usefulness of the appendix as a source of beneficial bacteria.

The appendix has been traditionally thought to be a vestigial organ which is not necessary for normal body function.

Citing existing studies conducted by other researchers, he pointed out how the appendix was a “safe house” for healthful bacteria and repopulates the gut with bacteria beneficial for digestive functions.

He also pointed out how some research had suggested the link between the appendix and neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s disease, but further research is required.



Advances in Integrative Medicine, April 2015, Vol 2, Issue 1

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and Magnesium Orotate as adjunctives to SSRIs in sub-optimal treatment response of depression in adults: A pilot study

Authors: Matthew Bambling, et al


Inflammopharmocology, April 2017, Vol 25, Issue 2

A combination of probiotics and magnesium orotate attenuate depression in a small SSRI resistant cohort: an intestinal anti-inflammatory response is suggested

Authors: Matthew Bambling, et al


Journal of Cellular Biochemistry

Mitochondria could be a potential key mediator linking the intestinal microbiota to depression

Authors: Jiezhong Chen and Luis Vitetta 

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