Associations between short-chain fatty acid levels and mood disorder symptoms: a systematic review


Background: Available evidence points to a possible role of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) in mood disorders. This is the first systematic review to map the associations between SCFA levels and mood disorder symptoms.Methods: Following the PRISMA guidelines, the databases PubMed, Embase, and PsycINFO were searched for studies that assessed SCFA levels in human populations with mood disorder symptoms, or animal models of mood disorder. Risk of bias was assessed by the Strengthening of Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist.Results: 19 studies were included and could be divided into animal (n=8) and human studies (n=11), with the animal studies including 166 animals and 100 controls, and the human studies including 662 participants and 330 controls. The studies were characterized by heterogeneity and methodological challenges on multiple parameters, limiting the validity and transferability of findings. Notably, only two of the clinical studies assessed the presence of mood disorder with diagnostic criteria, and no studies of mania or bipolar disorder met the inclusion criteria.Discussion: Despite significant methodological limitations, associations between SCFA levels and depressive symptoms were reported in most of the studies. However, the direction of these associations and the specific SCFAs identified varied. The quantification of SCFA levels in mood disorders is an emerging yet sparsely studied research field. Although there is some evidence suggesting a link between SCFAs and depressive symptoms, the directionality of effects and mechanisms are unclear and the relation to manic symptoms is uninvestigated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNutritional Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2023


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