Potential effects of the most prescribed drugs on the microbiota-gut-brain-axis: A review

The link between drug-induced dysbiosis and its influence on brain diseases through gut-residing bacteria and their metabolites, named the microbiota-gut-brain axis (MGBA), remains largely unexplored.


This review investigates the effects of commonly prescribed drugs (metformin, statins, proton-pump-inhibitors, NSAIDs, and anti-depressants) on the gut microbiota, comparing the findings with altered bacterial populations in major brain diseases (depression, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s). The report aims to explore whether drugs can influence the development and progression of brain diseases via the MGBA.


Central findings indicate that all explored drugs induce dysbiosis. These dysbiosis patterns were associated with brain disorders. The influence on brain diseases varied across different bacterial taxa, possibly mediated by direct effects or through bacterial metabolites. Each drug induced both positive and negative changes in the abundance of bacteria, indicating a counterbalancing effect. Moreover, the above-mentioned drugs exhibited similar effects, suggesting that they may counteract or enhance each other’s effects on brain diseases when taken together by comorbid patients.


In conclusion, the interplay of bacterial species and their abundances may have a greater impact on brain diseases than individual drugs or bacterial strains. Future research is needed to better understand drug-induced dysbiosis and the implications for brain disease pathogenesis, with the potential to develop more effective therapeutic options for patients with brain-related diseases.



Published: Feb 2024

For more information:

Brain Research Bulletin; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2024.110883