Do probiotics maintain gut microbiome equilibrium and provide mental health protection during circadian misalignment in shift workers?


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Subject Area



Majors: Psychology and Health Policy and Management
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Victoria Templer, Psychology

Shift workers are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders as a result of circadian misalignment. One of the mechanisms behind this is the gut microbiome that is responsible for the comorbidity between insomnia and depression due to the metabolism of microbes that produces neurotransmitters such as GABA, dopamine, melatonin, and serotonin.There have been studies examining the use of probiotics as an alternative treatment mechanism for depression and anxiety by restoring gut microbiome equilibrium; however, there are no studies evaluating the use of probiotics to protect against developing symptoms of these mental health disorders and their later progression. This study seeks to determine if the use of probiotics prior to circadian rhythm disturbances can act as a protective factor against the development of depression and anxiety symptoms brought on by circadian misalignment by maintaining gut microbiome equilibrium. Eighty nurses will be recruited prior to starting their work and grouped into rotating shift (RS) and day shift (DS) conditions based on their assigned schedules. Both RS and DS groups will be assigned to placebo or probiotic treatment groups. Baseline anxiety and depression scores, as well as gut microbiome composition, will be monitored for the duration of the study to evaluate changes in response to daily probiotic consumption one week before nurses begin shift working. If nurses in the RS probiotic condition exhibit lower levels of depression and anxiety for the duration of the study compared to the RS placebo condition, this will suggest that probiotics are effective at preventing mental health disorders from circadian misalignment. Furthermore, it suggests that probiotics could be recommended for use in shift workers to mitigate mental health disorders before their onset. Further studies will be required to evaluate whether or not the benefits of probiotic consumption outweigh the risks.


Providence College





Start Date

4-29-2021 12:00 AM




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