Emerging evidence suggests that there is a window of opportunity within the early developmental period, when microbiota-based interventions could play a major role in modulating the gut-brain axis and, thereby, in preventing mood disorders. This study aims at evaluating the effects and mode of action of Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 in a murine model of chronic stress induced by maternal separation (MS). C57Bl/6J male breast-fed pups were divided into four groups, which were subjected or not to MS and supplemented with placebo or B. pseudocatenulatum CECT7765 until postnatal period (P) 21 and followed-up until P41. Behavioral tests were performed and neuroendocrine parameters were analyzed including corticosterone, cytokine/chemokine concentrations and neurotransmitters. Microbiota was also analyzed in stools by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 administration attenuated some aspects of the excessive MS-induced stress response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, particularly corticosterone production at baseline and in response to subsequent acute stress in adulthood. B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 also down-regulated MS-induced intestinal inflammation (reducing interferon gamma [IFN-γ]) and intestinal hypercatecholaminergic activity (reducing dopamine [DA] and adrenaline [A] concentrations) at P21. These effects have a long-term impact on the central nervous system (CNS) of adult mice since MS mice fed B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 showed lower anxiety levels than placebo-fed MS mice, as well as normal neurotransmitter levels in the hypothalamus. The anti-inflammatory effect of B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 seemed to be related to an improvement in glucocorticoid sensitivity in mesenteric lymph node immunocompetent cells at P21. The administration of B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 to MS animals also reversed intestinal dysbiosis affecting the proportions of ten Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) at P21, which could partly explain the restoration of immune, neuroendocrine and behavioral alterations caused by stress in early and later life. In summary, we show that B. pseudocatenulatum CECT 7765 is able to beneficially modulate the consequences of chronic stress on the HPA response produced by MS during infancy with long-lasting effects in adulthood, via modulation of the intestinal neurotransmitter and cytokine network with short and long-term consequences in brain biochemistry and behavior.
Keywords: Anxiety; Bifidobacterium; Depression; Inflammation; Neurotransmitters; Stress.
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