Both of these articles really seemed to hit home with me, so much so that I’ve been reading more into research done on the gut microbiome and the impact that may have on anxiety and depressive disorders. I think that these types of disorders are on an increasing rise in society and current medical treatments do a relatively good job in curving the side effects. However, with increased research its now becoming possible that there may be long-term solutions in discerning the effect that the microbiome has on these disorders. Both papers did a great job stressing the importance of a multi-faceted system that effects individuals. For example, the Buffington paper said “the combination of social interaction and oxytocin treatment restored LTP in the VTA” and Reber postulated that “anxiolytic and fear-reducing effects of M. vaccae are dependent on Treg.” Both of these authors stressed that in some cases it’s not due to the microbiome alone, but can also have other pieces of the puzzle that make this system work. To me, this really showed the complexity of these diseases and the multiple systems within the body that are instrumental in “average” functioning.
While I did enjoy these articles, I think both would have really benefitted from one additional test. Both of these tests involved skewing the original microbiome through different experiments, so it’s completely possible that the altered gut microbiome was uncomfortable or upsetting to the animals, and that is why decreased social behavior is seen. These articles would have been even more relevant if a test was done to show that a change in microbiome doesn’t change usually enjoyable behaviors of animals like eating, but only influences the social behaviors that are being tested. If individuals are seen with overall decreased activity, the alternation in the gut microbiome may have a generalized effect on the animal rather than just a social one.