The Hong Kong Society of Gut Microbiome announced the first phase of its Phase II Hong Kong Gut Microbiome Study at its press conference on 21 October 2021. The study was commissioned by Hong Kong Healthcare Medical Research Limited from April to September 2020 and technically sponsored by BioMed Technology Holdings Limited, a partner company of the Hong Kong Science Park, to conduct detailed gut analysis for 97 individuals.
The majority of participants with poor sleep and depressive symptoms had imbalances in the gut microbiology
Based on the participants’ questionnaire scores, the data showed that more than 80% of the participants had poor sleep quality and more than 20% had various degrees of depression. The study also found that more than 60% of the participants with poor sleep and nearly 70% of the participants with moderate to severe depression had mild to severe intestinal dysbiosis through the collection of stool samples, gut microbiome DNA testing and next-generation gene sequencing (qPCR and NGS Gut Microbiome Test). Among them, the richness of intestinal microbiota (Richness) of poor sleepers was lower than that of the normal population. The intestinal data also showed that participants with poor sleep and depressive symptoms had specific patterns of microbiota distribution.
Different probiotic deficiencies in participants with different symptoms.
The data showed that patients with each of the two symptoms were deficient in specific microbiota. 60% of those with poor sleep were deficient in Bifidobacterium bifidum (38%) compared to the control group. In addition, 87% of those with depression symptoms were deficient in Lactobacillus acidophilus, more than the control group (65%). The association of Lactobacillus acidophilus deficiency with depressive symptoms was consistent with previous studies.
Targeted regulation of intestinal micro-ecology can effectively improve related symptoms
Participants were subsequently supplemented with a standard dose of probiotics, which they were generally deficient in, based on the DNA test report. Two months after probiotic supplementation, 68 participants underwent a second gut microbiome DNA test. Analysis of the pre and post data showed that more than 60% of the participants who were deficient in Lactobacillus acidophilus (63%) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (74%) were effectively replenished. In addition, probiotic supplementation was also effective in improving participants’ sleep quality and depression scores. 70% of the participants with poor sleep improved by 20%, and 80% of the participants with moderate or above depression symptoms also improved by nearly 30%. The above reflects that people with different mental health problems have different probiotic deficiencies. Therefore, targeted probiotic supplementation for specific groups of patient can be more effective in relieving their symptoms.
Gut microbiome is associated with mental health, and we hope to promote more local research to propose diversified methods of relief.
Although research on the effects of gut microbiome on brain function has been increasing in recent years, there is still a relative lack of research data on Hong Kong people. We hope that this study will not only raise public awareness of gut and mental health, but also provide valid data for the public to understand more diversified methods of relieving common sleep and mood problems through dietary adjustment, improvement of work and rest schedule, regular exercise and supplementation of specific probiotics to regulate the gut. In addition, the Society is also conducting a number of large scale community studies in Hong Kong on different health problems such as eczema and psoriasis in children, in the hope of exploring their correlation with gut microbiome and promoting more public education and research development on intestinal health.