Treatment with gut bifidobacteria improves hippocampal plasticity and cognitive behavior in adult healthy rats

Neuropharmacology. 2020 Mar 15;165:107909. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.107909. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


At the present time, gut microbiota inspires great interest in the field of neuroscience as a function of its role in normal physiology and involvement in brain function. This aspect suggests a specific gut-brain pathway, mainly modulated by gut microbiota activity. Among the multiple actions controlled by microbiota at the brain level, neuronal plasticity and cognitive function represent two of the most interesting aspects of this cross-talk communication. We address the possible action of two-months implementation of gut Bifidobacteria using a mixture of three different strains (B-MIX) on hippocampal plasticity and related cognitive behavior in adult healthy Sprague Dawley rats. B-MIX treatment increases the hippocampal BDNF with a parallel gain in dendritic spines' density of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Electrophysiological experiments revealed a significant increment of HFS-induced LTP formation on the CA1 hippocampal region in B-MIX treated rats. All these effects are accompanied by a better cognitive performance observed in B-MIX treated animals with no impairments in locomotion activity. Therefore, in adult rats, the treatment with different strains of bifidobacteria is able to markedly enhance neuronal plasticity and the CNS function influencing cognitive behavior, an effect that may suggest a potential therapeutic treatment in brain diseases associated with cognitive functions.

Keywords: Bifidobacteria; Cognition; Dendritic spines; Hippocampus; Microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Dendritic Spines / microbiology
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology
  • Hippocampus / microbiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / microbiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spatial Learning / physiology


  • Bdnf protein, rat
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor