Probiotics could help offset long term behavioural effects of early-life antibiotic use

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Administration of penicillin with a probiotic partially prevented negative behavioural traits. ©iStock
Administration of penicillin with a probiotic partially prevented negative behavioural traits. ©iStock

Related tags: Probiotic, Bacteria

Co-administration probiotics can help offset some of the lasting behavioural effects of penicillin treatment in early life, a mouse model study has shown.

Academics said there was increasing evidence that antibiotics, when used early in life, may have unwanted long-term effects, with animal studies showing that high doses affect behaviour and brain neurochemistry.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications,​ researchers tested whether similar effects could be seen in mice when given a low dose of penicillin during the perinatal period (one week before birth) until weaning (three weeks after birth).

The authors found that administering penicillin led to changes in gut microbiota composition, reinforcement of blood-brain barrier integrity, and increased levels of certain brain cytokines).

The same alterations were observed in the mice at six weeks of age. In addition, the penicillin treatment led to reduced social behaviour in adult mice, and decreased anxiety-like behaviour and increased aggression in adult male mice.

However, administration of penicillin with a probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1​) partially prevented some of these alterations.

“We tested first whether a low dose of penicillin early in life had long-term effects on gut microbiota composition, blood–brain barrier and intestinal permeability, intestinal and brain cytokines expression and behaviour. Secondly, we investigated whether concurrent supplementation with L. rhamnosus JB-1, a psychoactive and neuroactive beneficial bacterium, can counteract the biological and behavioural effects of antibiotic treatment,” ​they wrote.

Further validation

“We found that early life antibiotic treatment induced long-term changes in gut microbiota composition, blood–brain barrier integrity and brain cytokines as well as behaviour. We also found that concurrent supplementation with L. rhamnosus JB-1 can attenuate certain deleterious effects of antibiotics.”

In particular, tests showed Lactobacillus prevented antibiotic-induced decreases in social novelty and sociability.

The authors, from the McMaster Brain-Body Institute in Canada, noted that because of the small sample size in some of the analyses, the probiotic’s preventive effects should be validated in further research.

“The partial preventive effects of a Lactobacillus given concurrently with the antibiotics early in life are intriguing and warrant further investigation of their potential to attenuate some of these possibly noxious long-term effects,”​ they concluded.

Source: Nature Communications

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15062

“Low-dose penicillin in early life induces long-term changes in murine gut microbiota, brain cytokines and behaviour”

Authors: Sophie Leclercq, et al

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