Sleep deprivation-induced anxiety-like behaviors are associated with alterations in the gut microbiota and metabolites

Microbiol Spectr. 2024 Apr 2;12(4):e0143723. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01437-23. Epub 2024 Feb 29.


The present study aimed to characterize the gut microbiota and serum metabolome changes associated with sleep deprivation (SD) as well as to explore the potential benefits of multi-probiotic supplementation in alleviating SD-related mental health disorders. Rats were subjected to 7 days of SD, followed by 14 days of multi-probiotics or saline administration. Open-field tests were conducted at baseline, end of SD (day 7), and after 14 days of saline or multi-probiotic gavage (day 21). Metagenomic sequencing was conducted on fecal samples, and serum metabolites were measured by untargeted liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry. At day 7, anxiety-like behaviors, including significant decreases in total movement distance (P = 0.0002) and staying time in the central zone (P = 0.021), were observed. In addition, increased levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; P = 0.028) and decreased levels of uridine (P = 0.018) and tryptophan (P = 0.01) were detected in rats after 7 days of SD. After SD, the richness of the gut bacterial community increased, and the levels of Akkermansia muciniphila, Muribaculum intestinale, and Bacteroides caecimuris decreased. The changes in the host metabolism and gut microbiota composition were strongly associated with the anxiety-like behaviors caused by SD. In addition, multi-probiotic supplementation for 14 days modestly improved the anxiety-like behaviors in SD rats but significantly reduced the serum level of LPS (P = 0.045). In conclusion, SD induces changes in the gut microbiota and serum metabolites, which may contribute to the development of chronic inflammatory responses and affect the gut-brain axis, causing anxiety-like behaviors. Probiotic supplementation significantly reduces serum LPS, which may alleviate the influence of chronic inflammation.

Importance: The disturbance in the gut microbiome and serum metabolome induced by SD may be involved in anxiety-like behaviors. Probiotic supplementation decreases serum levels of LPS, but this reduction may be insufficient for alleviating SD-induced anxiety-like behaviors.

Keywords: anxiety; gut microbiota; metabolomics; probiotics; sleep deprivation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / physiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Rats
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications


  • Lipopolysaccharides