MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elizabeth Bryda, PhD
Professor, Director, Rat Resource and Research Center
University of Missouri
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: A number of groups have demonstrated the ability of probiotics to benefit digestive health and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest an association between mental health and “gut health”. We were interested to see if probiotic bacteria could decrease anxiety- or stress-related behavior in a controlled setting using zebrafish as our model organism of choice for these studies.
We were able to show that Lactobacillus plantarum decreased overall anxiety-related behavior and protected against stress-induced dysbiosis (microbial imbalance). The fact that administration of probiotic bacteria also protected other resident gut bacteria from the dramatic changes seen in “stressed” fish not receiving the probiotic was unexpected and suggested that these bacteria may be working at the level of the GI tract and the central nervous system.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The potential human health implications suggested by our findings are that probiotics such as yogurt may confer some resilience to stress and anxiety, and may also protect the resident gut bacteria from stress- and anxiety-induced disruptions in bacterial community composition.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: There are a couple of “next steps”, some of which are well underway in our lab. We are currently repeating the published study, but with the addition of several treatment groups receiving various compounds capable of blocking different stress-related pathways. These studies are designed to determine the precise mechanisms involved in the protective effects we observed in probiotic-treated zebrafish. We would also like to replicate the key findings in other species such as mice or rats with the long-term goal of moving to translational studies in humans.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: This study underscores the value of a comparative medicine approach to biomedical research, and the selection of an appropriate model species. The University of Missouri has outstanding resources and assets in the field of comparative medicine and is home to the NIH-funded Rat Resource and Research Center (RRRC) and Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center (MMRRC), a cutting-edge Animal Modeling Core and Metagenomics Center, and a T32-funded training program for veterinarians pursuing specialization in comparative medicine. Drawing from these resources and the combined expertise of classically trained PhD scientists and DVMs with training in comparative medicine allows for robust studies which can quickly be translated to higher vertebrate species before potentially moving to trials in humans.
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Lactobacillus plantarum attenuates anxiety-related behavior and protects against stress-induced dysbiosis in adult zebrafish
Daniel J. Davis, Holly M. Doerr, Agata K. Grzelak Susheel B. Busi, Eldin Jasarevic, Aaron C. Ericsson&Elizabeth C. Bryda
Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 33726 (2016)
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