Probiotics stimulate enterocyte migration and microbial diversity in the neonatal mouse intestine

FASEB J. 2012 May;26(5):1960-9. doi: 10.1096/fj.10-177980. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Beneficial microbes and probiotics show promise for the treatment of pediatric gastrointestinal diseases. However, basic mechanisms of probiosis are not well understood, and most investigations have been performed in germ-free or microbiome-depleted animals. We sought to functionally characterize probiotic-host interactions in the context of normal early development. Outbred CD1 neonatal mice were orally gavaged with one of two strains of human-derived Lactobacillus reuteri or an equal volume of vehicle. Transcriptome analysis was performed on enterocyte RNA isolated by laser-capture microdissection. Enterocyte migration and proliferation were assessed by labeling cells with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine, and fecal microbial community composition was determined by 16S metagenomic sequencing. Probiotic ingestion altered gene expression in multiple canonical pathways involving cell motility. L. reuteri strain DSM 17938 dramatically increased enterocyte migration (3-fold), proliferation (34%), and crypt height (29%) compared to vehicle-treated mice, whereas strain ATCC PTA 6475 increased cell migration (2-fold) without affecting crypt proliferative activity. In addition, both probiotic strains increased the phylogenetic diversity and evenness between taxa of the fecal microbiome 24 h after a single probiotic gavage. These experiments identify two targets of probiosis in early development, the intestinal epithelium and the gut microbiome, and suggest novel mechanisms for probiotic strain-specific effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Movement*
  • DNA Primers
  • Enterocytes / cytology*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Probiotics*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • DNA Primers
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S