Microbiome and Methylation (M&M): A Source of Information for Precision Medicine

2020 Award: $42,000

Despite greater recognition of the need to treat Perinatal Depression and Anxiety that can affect one in five women, current treatment algorithms are still limited in the ability to personalize to individuals and the heterogenous factors that are playing a role for each woman. This project will identify profiles of the microbiome i.e., the composition and the function of the microbes that live within us and particularly in our guts, and methylation, i.e., the process by which methyl groups are added to allow for use of our genes, during the postpartum period are blueprints for the foundation of mental wellness for each woman, her child, and family.

Need/Problem: Despite greater recognition of the need to treat Perinatal Depression and Anxiety that can affect one in five women, current treatment algorithms are still limited in the ability to personalize to individuals and the heterogenous factors that are playing a role for each woman.

Grant Summary: The study will identify microbiome and methylation profiles during the postpartum to help understand the blueprints that are the foundation of mental wellness. Women in the cohort have been well-characterized in terms of their psychiatric history, current symptoms, and many other factors such as diet and stress reactivity.

Goals and Projected Outcomes: To identify and replicate methylation profiles associated with postpartum depression and anxiety and then to combine these with profiles of gut microbial composition and function to provide preliminary data and a proof of concept to direct a larger study.

Mary Kimmel, MD

Grant Details: By taking samples from a cohort of women who were followed into the postpartum period, we are able to identify profiles of the microbiome, i.e., the composition and the function of the microbes that live within us and particularly in our guts, and methylation, i.e., the process by which methyl groups are added to allow for use of our genes. These profiles will be developed in relation to different clusters of depressive and anxiety symptoms and can also be studied in relation to factors such as an individual’s diet and stress reactivity, which are analyses already ongoing.