Specific changes in the mammalian gut microbiome as a biomarker for oxytocin-induced behavioral changes

Itzhak Dangoor, Dušanka Stanić, Leah Reshef, Vesna Pešić, Uri Gophna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Prolonged exposure to psychiatric pharmacological agents is often associated with marked gastrointestinal phenomena, including changes in food intake, bowel motility, gastric emptying, and transit time. Those changes are reflected in the gut microbiota composition of the patient and can, therefore, be objectively measured. This is in contrast to the standard psychiatric evaluation of patients, which includes symptoms that are subjectively assessed (i.e., mood, anxiety level, perception, thought disorders, etc.). The association between a drug’s effect on the microbiota and psychiatric symptoms may allow for quantifiable surrogate markers of treatment effectiveness. Changes in the levels of specific drug-sensitive bacterial species can, thus, potentially serve as biomarkers for the intake and effectiveness of psychiatric drugs. Here, we show substantial microbiota changes that were associated with oxytocin administration and the decreased anxiety/depression-like behaviors it conferred in a rat model of corticosterone-induced stress. Compared with oxytocin, citalopram produced more minor effects on the rats’ microbiota. Alterations in the gut microbiota may, therefore, reflect the consumption and effectiveness of some psychiatric drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1938
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


FundersFunder number
Ministarstvo Prosvete, Nauke i Tehnološkog Razvoja


    • Biomarker
    • Gut-brain axis
    • Microbiome
    • Oxytocin
    • Psychiatry


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