The gut-microbiome as a target for the treatment of schizophrenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of add-on strategies.

Minichino, Amedeo; Brondino, Natascia; Solmi, Marco; Del Giovane, Cinzia; Fusar-Poli, Paolo; Burnet, Philip; Cipriani, Andrea; Lennox, Belinda R (2021). The gut-microbiome as a target for the treatment of schizophrenia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of add-on strategies. Schizophrenia Research, 234, pp. 1-13. Elsevier 10.1016/j.schres.2020.02.012

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The gut-microbiome has been hypothesised as a novel potential target for intervention for schizophrenia. We tested this hypothesis with a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the efficacy and acceptability of add-on strategies known to affect the gut-microbiome for the treatment of schizophrenia. Following PRISMA guidelines, we searched from inception to August 2019 all the randomised double-blind controlled trials of add-on antibiotics, antimicrobials, pre/probiotics, and faecal transplant in schizophrenia. Primary outcomes were severity of negative symptoms and acceptability of treatment. Data were independently extracted by multiple observers and a random-mixed model was used for the analysis. Heterogeneity was assessed with the I2 index. We identified 28 eligible trials: 21 investigated antibiotics, 4 antimicrobials (Artemisinin, Artemether, and Sodium Benzoate), 3 pre/probiotics, none faecal transplant. Results showed no effect of D-Cycloserine (10 studies; SMD, -0.16; 95% CI -0.40, 0.08; P = .20; I2: 28.2%), Minocycline (7 studies; SMD: -0.35; 95% CI -0.70, 0.00; P = .05, I2:77.7%), other antibiotics (2 studies), probiotics alone (1 study), and Artemisinin (1 study) on negative symptoms of schizophrenia when compared to placebo. Limited evidence suggests efficacy on negative symptoms for Sodium benzoate (2 studies; SMD, -0.63; 95%CI -1.03, -0.23; P < .001; I2:0%), Artemether (1 study), and probiotics combined with Vitamin D (1 study) when compared to placebo. Acceptability of intervention was similar to placebo. Negative findings were mainly led by antibiotics trials, with paucity of evidence available on pre/probiotics. There is a need of expanding our knowledge on the clinical relevance of gut-microbiome-host interaction in psychosis before engaging in further trials.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of General Practice and Primary Care (BIHAM)

UniBE Contributor:

Del Giovane, Cinzia


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services








Andrea Flükiger-Flückiger

Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2020 20:15

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:38

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Antibiotics Gut-microbiome Minocycline Prebiotics Probiotics Schizophrenia




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