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Sex differences in gut microbiota in patients with major depressive disorder

Authors Chen JJ, Zheng P, Liu YY, Zhong XG, Wang HY, Guo YJ, Xie P

Received 8 December 2017

Accepted for publication 11 January 2018

Published 26 February 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 647—655


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang

Jian-jun Chen,1–4 Peng Zheng,2,3 Yi-yun Liu,2,3 Xiao-gang Zhong,2,3 Hai-yang Wang,2,3 Yu-jie Guo,2,3 Peng Xie2,3

1Institute of Life Sciences, 2Department of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital, 3Institute of Neuroscience, 4Joint International Research Laboratory of Reproduction and Development, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China

Objective: Our previous studies found that disturbances in gut microbiota might have a causative role in the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to investigate whether there were sex differences in gut microbiota in patients with MDD.
Patients and methods: First-episode drug-naïve MDD patients and healthy controls were included. 16S rRNA gene sequences extracted from the fecal samples of the included subjects were analyzed. Principal-coordinate analysis and partial least squares-discriminant analysis were used to assess whether there were sex-specific gut microbiota. A random forest algorithm was used to identify the differential operational taxonomic units. Linear discriminant-analysis effect size was further used to identify the dominant sex-specific phylotypes responsible for the differences between MDD patients and healthy controls.
Results: In total, 57 and 74 differential operational taxonomic units responsible for separating female and male MDD patients from their healthy counterparts were identified. Compared with their healthy counterparts, increased Actinobacteria and decreased Bacteroidetes levels were found in female and male MDD patients, respectively. The most differentially abundant bacterial taxa in female and male MDD patients belonged to phyla Actinobacteria and Bacteroidia, respectively. Meanwhile, female and male MDD patients had different dominant phylotypes.
Conclusion: These results demonstrated that there were sex differences in gut microbiota in patients with MDD. The suitability of Actinobacteria and Bacteroidia as the sex-specific biomarkers for diagnosing MDD should be further explored.

Keywords: major depressive disorder, MDD, gut microbiota, biomarker

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