Are Microbes in the Throat Causing Schizophrenia?

By Klem (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via

According to new research released by George Washington University, researchers have identified a possible link between microbes in the human throat and schizophrenia. The link may be a way to identify the causes and help in developing a treatment for the disease, it could even lead to new diagnostic tests being established.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a long term mental health disorder and it involves a person suffering from a breakdown in thought, emotion, and behavior and having a skewed perception of reality. People with this disorder could withdraw into their own world or reality and also develop relationships that culminate into fantasies and delusions.

People who suffer from schizophrenia might hear voices that others do not. Additionally, they could think others are reading their mind, controlling their thoughts or scheming to harm them. A schizophrenic may not seem to make sense when they speak and they may sit for hours and do no talking or moving. Many people with the disorder will have a hard time holding a job and may require others to help take care of them.

What have researchers found?

The lead author of the study Eduardo Castro-Nallar, PhD candidate at George Washington’s Computational Biology Institute states, “The oropharynx of schizophrenics seems to harbor different proportions of oral bacteria than healthy individuals.” The team’s analysis of data revealed an association between microbes and people with schizophrenia.

Recently performed research studies have proven that microbiomes (which are the communities of microbes that live in a person’s body) can impact the immune system and could be linked to mental health. There has been past research done that links immune disorders and schizophrenia, and this most recent one suggests the possibility that shifts in oral communities are present in schizophrenics.

The research done by Castro-Nallar wanted to identify the possible association of microbes in relation to schizophrenia, as well as different components that may be attributed or connected to the changes in the immune system in a person. This particular study found there was a big difference in the microbes of a healthy person and those with schizophrenia.


Keith Crandall, contributing author to the study stated, “Our results suggesting a link between microbiome diversity and schizophrenia require application and expansion to a broader number of individuals for further validation. But the results are quite intriguing and suggest potential applications of biomarkers for diagnosis of schizophrenia and important metabolic pathways associated with the disease.”


The results of this new study are promising in that it can help identify possible causes of schizophrenia. More studies are needed in order to help scientists discover if microbiome changes are indeed a contributing factor in schizophrenia, or if they do not have any connection to it.


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