Gut microbiota variations in patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder-A systematic review

Julie Kristine Knudsen*, Caspar Bundgaard-Nielsen, Simon Hjerrild, René Ernst Nielsen, Peter Leutscher, Suzette Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
169 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: The etiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) is multi-factorial and has been associated with a perturbed gut microbiota. Thus, it is therefore of great importance to determine any variations in gut microbiota in patients with MDD.

METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted including original research articles based on gut microbiota studies performed in patients with MDD. Demographic and clinical characteristics, applied methodology and observed gut microbiota composition were compared between included studies.

RESULTS: Seventeen studies were included with a total of 738 patients with MDD and 782 healthy controls using different DNA purification methods, sequencing platforms and data analysis models. Four studies found a reduced α-diversity in patients with MDD, while gut microbiota compositions clustered separately according to β-diversity between patients and controls in twelve studies. Additionally, there was an increase in relative abundance of Eggerthella, Atopobium, and Bifidobacterium and a decreased relative abundance of Faecalibacterium in patients with MDD compared with healthy controls.

CONCLUSION: Gut microbiota differs significantly when comparing patients with MDD and healthy controls, though inconsistently across studies. The heterogeneity in gut microbiota compositions between the studies may be explained by variations in study design.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02177
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • depression
  • gut-brain axis
  • major depressive disorder
  • microbiome
  • microbiota
  • unipolar depression


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