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Probiotics may ease stress-related gut problems: Mouse data

By Stephen DANIELLS , 15-Mar-2013

A supplement of beneficial bacteria may ease stress-induced intestinal inflammation for people with irritable bowel syndrome, suggests new data from the University of Michigan.

Lab mice with water-avoidance stress (WAS)-induced intestinal disorders were associated with a suppressing an important component called an inflammasome which is needed to maintain normal gut microbiota.

However, a commercial probiotic supplement containing Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Streptococcus faecalis was found to significantly reduce the severity of gut flare-up, and reversed changes in the microbiota that WAS caused, according to findings published in Gastroenterology .

“The effect of stress could be protected with probiotics which reversed the inhibition of the inflammasome,” said John Kao, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and senior author.

“This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why treating IBS patients with probiotics makes sense.”

According the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

Study details

Kao and his co-workers examined the effects of stress on the composition of gut bacteria, and the potential beneficial role of probiotics.

The data indicated that stressed mice produced a substance called corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) that inhibited NLRP6 inflammasome activity.

However, feeding the animals probiotic supplements prior to the induction of stress reduced inflammation.

“These findings might explain the benefits of probiotics for patients with stress-associated gastrointestinal disorders,” wrote the researchers.

Kao said that additional clinical studies are required to determine the optimal probiotic therapy.

“Patients can start living healthier lifestyles to improve their gut microbiota such as adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet, and looking for ways to keep stress in check.”

Source: Gastroenterology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.038
“Stress-Induced Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone-Mediated NLRP6 Inflammasome Inhibition and Transmissible Enteritis in Mice”
Authors: Y. Sun, M. Zhang, C-C. Chen, M. Gillilland III, X. Sun, M. El-Zaatari, G.B. Huffnagle, V.B. Young, J. Zhang, S-C. Hong, Y-M. Chang, D.L. Gumucio, C. Owyang, J.Y. Kao

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