Modulation of Gut Microbial Diversity through Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Treat Schizophrenia

Nayla Munawar, Aftab Ahmad, Munir Ahmad Anwar, Khalid Muhammad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a psychotic syndrome with well-defined signs and symptoms but indecisive causes and effective treatment. Unknown underpinning reasons and no cure of the disease profoundly elevate the risk of illness. Gut microbial dysbiosis related metabolic dysfunction is providing a new angle to look at the potential causes and treatment options for schizophrenia. Because of the number of side effects, including gut dysbiosis, of traditional antipsychotic drugs, new alternative therapeutic options are under consideration. We propose that non-pharmacotherapy using biotherapeutic products could be a potent treatment to improve cognitive impairment and other symptoms of schizophrenia. Use of live microorganisms (probiotics), fibers (prebiotics), and polyphenols alone or in a mixture can maintain gut microbial diversity and improve the two-way relationship of the gut microbiota and the central nervous system. Fiber and polyphenol induced management of gut microbiota may positively influence the gut–brain axis by increasing the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factors involved in schizophrenia. Furthermore, we endorse the need for comprehensive clinical assessment and follow-up of psychobiotic (pro and prebiotics) treatment in mental illness to estimate the level of target recovery and disability reduction in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2625
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Antipsychotics
  • Gut microbiota
  • Gut–brain axis
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Polyphenols
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Psychobiotics
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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