According to a new research study conducted in the US, a certain type of bacteria found in the oropharynx – the region of the throat at the back of the mouth that contains the tonsils – can be linked to schizophrenia.
The same team had discovered differences in throat bacteria between people that had the condition and those without it in a previous study.
However, in the new study, researchers on the project examined 16 individuals with schizophrenia and 16 control participants to assess the viruses, bacteria and fungi present.
Recent studies have indicated that communities of microbes living in our bodies can have a significant impact on the immune system, and the additional link to mental health is a fairly recent development.
Eduardo Castro-Naller, one of the researchers involved with the project from George Washington University, said: “The oropharynx of schizophrenics seems to harbour different proportions of oral bacteria than healthy individuals.
“Specifically, our analyses revealed an association between microbes such as lactic-acid bacteria and schizophrenics.”
However, the study’s leaders have indicated that further research is needed to assess the full link, particularly as a number of the participants with schizophrenia in their study also smoked, whereas none of the control participants did.
The researchers emphasised that if they can confirm their findings with a larger and more diverse sample group then they will be able to support the most recent findings.
Further information about the study is available in the journal Peer J.