Schizophrenia (SCZ) is associated with complex crosstalk between the gut microbiota and host metabolism, but the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Investigating the aberrant neurotransmitter processes reflected by alterations identified using multiomics analysis is valuable to fully explain the pathogenesis of SCZ.
We conducted an integrative analysis of multiomics data, including the serum metabolome, fecal metagenome, single nucleotide polymorphism data, and neuroimaging data obtained from a cohort of 127 drug-naïve, first-episode SCZ patients and 92 healthy controls to characterize the microbiome–gut–brain axis in SCZ patients. We used pathway-based polygenic risk score (PRS) analyses to determine the biological pathways contributing to genetic risk and mediation effect analyses to determine the important neuroimaging features. Additionally, a random forest model was generated for effective SCZ diagnosis.
We found that the altered metabolome and dysregulated microbiome were associated with neuroactive metabolites, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), tryptophan, and short-chain fatty acids. Further structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging analyses highlighted that gray matter volume and functional connectivity disturbances mediate the relationships between Ruminococcus_torgues and Collinsella_aerofaciens and symptom severity and the relationships between species Lactobacillus_ruminis and differential metabolites l-2,4-diaminobutyric acid and N-acetylserotonin and cognitive function. Moreover, analyses of the Polygenic Risk Score (PRS) support that alterations in GABA and tryptophan neurotransmitter pathways are associated with SCZ risk, and GABA might be a more dominant contributor.
This study provides new insights into systematic relationships among genes, metabolism, and the gut microbiota that affect brain functional connectivity, thereby affecting SCZ pathogenesis.