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Accumulated evidence shows that some probiotic strains ameliorate functional constipation (FC) via the modulation of specific gastrointestinal peptide pathways. The aims of this study were to investigate: (1) the effects of long-term administration of Lactobacillus reuteri (LR) DSM 17938 on the serum levels of serotonin (5-HT) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF); (2) the possible link between 5-HT, BDNF, and specific constipation-related symptoms; (3) whether genetic variability at the 5-HTT gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and BDNF Val66Met loci could be associated with serum 5-HT and BDNF variations. LR DSM 17938 was administered to 56 FC patients for 105 days in a randomised, double-blind manner. The fasting blood samples were collected during the randomisation visit (V1), at day 15 (induction period, V2), day 60 (intermediate evaluation, V3), and day 105 (V4) and the Constipaq questionnaire (the sum of Constipation Scoring System (CSS) and patient assessment constipation quality of life (PAC-QoL)) was administered. A group of healthy subjects was enrolled as controls (HC). At V1, the mean serum 5-HT level in the whole patient group was significantly higher (P=0.027) than in HC subjects, while serum BDNF did not. At the end of probiotic administration (V4), 5-HT and BDNF levels were significantly lower than the initial values (V1) (P=0.008 and P=0.015, respectively). 5-HT and BDNF serum concentration were significantly associated (r=0.355; P=0.007). Neither 5-HT nor BDNF serum levels correlated with the CSS item scores and with the PAC-QoL. Lastly, the regression analysis demonstrated that the presence of the S allele of the 5-HTTLPR accounted for the reduction in the 5-HT concentration at V4. In conclusion, the long-term administration of LR DSM 17938 demonstrated that such a probiotic strain could improve FC by affecting 5-HT and BDNF serum concentrations.

Keywords: DSM 17938; 5-HT; BDNF; constipation; probiotics.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938Improved Functional ConstipationBeneficial
Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938Reduced Serum BDNF LevelsBeneficial
Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938Reduced Serum Serotonin LevelsBeneficial

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