Effect of Probiotic Bifidobacterium breve in Improving Cognitive Function and Preventing Brain Atrophy in Older Patients with Suspected Mild Cognitive Impairment: Results of a 24-Week Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;88(1):75-95. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220148.


Background: Probiotics have been reported to ameliorate cognitive impairment.

Objective: We investigated the effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium breve MCC1274 (A1) in enhancing cognition and preventing brain atrophy of older patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods: In this RCT, 130 patients aged from 65 to 88 years old with suspected MCI received once daily either probiotic (B. breve MCC1274, 2×1010 CFU) or placebo for 24 weeks. Cognitive functions were assessed by ADAS-Jcog and MMSE tests. Participants underwent MRI to determine brain atrophy changes using Voxel-based Specific Regional Analysis System for Alzheimer's disease (VSRAD). Fecal samples were collected for the analysis of gut microbiota composition.

Results: Analysis was performed on 115 participants as the full analysis set (probiotic 55, placebo 60). ADAS-Jcog subscale "orientation" was significantly improved compared to placebo at 24 weeks. MMSE subscales "orientation in time" and "writing" were significantly improved compared to placebo in the lower baseline MMSE (< 25) subgroup at 24 weeks. VSRAD scores worsened in the placebo group; probiotic supplementation tended to suppress the progression, in particular among those subjects with progressed brain atrophy (VOI Z-score ≥1.0). There were no marked changes in the overall composition of the gut microbiota by the probiotic supplementation.

Conclusion: Improvement of cognitive function was observed on some subscales scores only likely due to the lower sensitiveness of these tests for MCI subjects. Probiotics consumption for 24 weeks suppressed brain atrophy progression, suggesting that B. breve MCC1274 helps prevent cognitive impairment of MCI subjects.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium; brain atrophy; cognitive function; mild cognitive impairment; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Bifidobacterium breve*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / prevention & control
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Probiotics* / therapeutic use