DU researchers to study role of gut microbiome in perinatal depression

Monday November 19, 2018 Tags: Denver, University of Denver, uBiome, Elysia Davis

DENVER -- Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, San Francisco-based uBiome, a leader in microbial genomics, has awarded microbiome research support in study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis to a team of researchers at University of Denver led by Dr. Elysia Davis to study associations between maternal depressive symptoms, infant cognitive/behavioral development, and the gut microbiome.university-of-denver-logo

The amount of the research grant was not disclosed.

The goal of the study is to examine the association between the gut microbiome composition, maternal mood during pregnancy and postpartum, and infant brain and behavioral development in the first 12 months of life.

DU researchers also plan to study the effects of reducing maternal depression using interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) on the microbiome of the infant, and the relations between infant microbiome and mechanisms associated with the development of mood and anxiety disorders later in life.

Data collected from the DU study will include microbiome composition from uBiome’s patented kits, mood and cognitive function, diet, medication and antibiotic exposure, and maternal and infant body composition data.

Researchers hope this study will provide insight into possible prevention and treatment of maternal depression, one of the most common prenatal complications and strongest contributor to child psychopathologies, including anxiety and depression.

“The research linking the gut microbiome with mood and behavior is rapidly expanding, however limited data on the role of the gut microbiome in perinatal depression and in brain development and behavior is available,” said Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome.

“We are excited to support the University of Denver in their pursuit to expand the research in this area.“

About the grant, Dr. Davis said: “The extraordinary pace of brain development during fetal and early life by far outpaces any other period of the lifespan,” said DU’s Davis.

“However, we know very little about the role of the gut microbiome in brain development during this critical developmental period. Support from uBiome provides an exciting opportunity to investigate the impact of prenatal maternal depression on the gut microbiome and subsequent implications for infant brain development.”

Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, uBiome has awarded millions of dollars in research support to hundreds of investigators around the world at renowned academic institutions and not-for-profit research organizations, including Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, San Francisco, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney.

Awards include patented microbiome sequencing kits, as well as research support in study design, planning, sample collection and analysis.