Effects of Lactobacillus helveticus on murine behavior are dependent on diet and genotype and correlate with alterations in the gut microbiome

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Sep;38(9):1738-47. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Modulation of the gut microbiota with diet and probiotic bacteria can restore intestinal homeostasis in inflammatory conditions and alter behavior via the gut-brain axis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the modulatory effects of probiotics differ depending on diet and mouse genotype. At weaning, wild type (WT) and IL-10 deficient (IL-10(-/-)) 129/SvEv mice were placed on a standard mouse chow or a Western-style diet (fat 33%, refined carbohydrate 49%)±Lactobacillus helveticus ROO52 (10(9)cfu/d) for 21 days. Animal weight and food eaten were monitored weekly. Intestinal immune function was analysed for cytokine expression using the Meso Scale Discovery platform. Spatial memory and anxiety-like behavior was assessed in a Barnes maze. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) was used to analyze the fecal microbiota. Both WT and IL-10(-/-) mice on a Western diet had increased weight gain along with changes in gut microbiota and cytokine expression and altered anxiety-like behavior. The ability of L. helveticus to modulate these factors was genotype- and diet-dependent. Anxiety-like behavior and memory were negatively affected by Western-style diet depending on inflammatory state, but this change was prevented with L. helveticus administration. However, probiotics alone decreased anxiety-like behavior in WT mice on a chow diet. Mice on the Western diet had decreased inflammation and fecal corticosterone, but these markers did not correlate with changes in behavior. Analysis of bacterial phyla from WT and IL-10(-/-)mice showed discrete clustering of the groups to be associated with both diet and probiotic supplementation, with the diet-induced shift normalized to some degree by L. helveticus. These findings suggest that the type of diet consumed by the host and the presence or absence of active inflammation may significantly alter the ability of probiotics to modulate host physiological function.

Keywords: Anxiety; Behavior; Colonic inflammation; Corticosterone; High fat diet; Memory; Microbiota; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Colitis / etiology
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colitis / prevention & control*
  • Cortisone / analysis
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / chemistry
  • Genotype
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Interleukin-10 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Intestines / chemistry
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Lactobacillus helveticus* / physiology
  • Maze Learning
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Probiotics / toxicity
  • Prosencephalon / pathology
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Weight Gain


  • Cytokines
  • Fatty Acids
  • IL10 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-10
  • Cortisone