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Probiotics increase GABA receptors in mice


Phil
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Very interesting -- and contests the role of antidepressants in inducing neurogenesis. Good eating can do as well or better!

 

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The latest evidence for this “gut-brain axis” comes from Javier Bravo at University College Cork. He fed mice with a probiotic bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, often found in yoghurts and dairy products. The bacterial menu changed the levels of signalling chemicals in the rodents’ brains, and reduced behaviours associated with stress, anxiety and depression.

 

Probiotic bacteria – those that benefit their host – are the subject of sweeping, hand-waving health claims. But beneath the breathless marketing hype, there is some intriguing underlying science. For example, some trials have found that probiotics can help to alleviate the mood symptoms that accompany irritable bowel or chronic fatigue syndrome. To that end, Bravo wanted to see if L.rhamnosus could influence the brains of normal, healthy animals.

 

Bravo found that his mice, after regularly eating Lactobacillus, were more likely to spend time in the exposed parts of a maze (a common test for anxiety symptoms) than those who ate bacteria-free meals. They were also less likely to drift motionlessly when plopped into water (a common test for depressive symptoms). And during stressful situations, they built up lower levels of stress hormones.

 

The bacteria also boosted the role of GABA, a restraining chemical that downplays the buzzing of excitable neurons. GABA works by docking with receptor proteins, and Bravo found that Lactobacillus increased the numbers of these receptors in parts of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotional control. The GABA system is involved in several stress-related mental conditions. For example, animals with depressive symptoms have lower levels of GABA receptors in the front of their brains, and one group of anti-anxiety drugs works by enhancing the effects of GABA receptors in humans.

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This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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