The impact of probiotics on brain and behaviour.
Probiotic products have demonstrated to be effective in reducing symptoms of mental disorders in animal models. However, studies in humans are scarce. Therefore, Winclove probiotics B.V. and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour of Radboud University and Medical Centre teamed up to investigate gut-brain mechanisms by which a probiotic would affect our behaviour.
Mental disorders have a huge negative impact on both personal lives and society. Affective psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety have debilitating effects on well being and working abilities and the health care cost range from 300-3000 million euro yearly. Mental disorders are partly explained by heritability, but also by unknown environmental factors. Recently it has become evident that the microorganisms in the gut can influence brain functioning and behaviour. This gut-brain link has become especially apparent in animal models of depression and anxiety.
Key challenge of this study is to understand the mechanisms of the interaction between gut microorganisms and brain functioning in humans. Here, we studied the effect of a multispecies probiotic product on brain functioning in relation to emotion, executive functioning and stress, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 58 healthy women.
We found that the effects of supplementation with a multispecies probiotic in healthy volunteers on brain and behaviour become especially visible under challenging (stressful) situations. Click here to read the manuscript. The finding that probiotics can regulate executive functioning in healthy volunteers under stress could contribute to new preventions and treatments for stress-related disorders like depression and anxiety, towards a self-maintained optimal mental health.