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Heat-sterilized Bifidobacterium breve prevents depression-like behavior and interleukin-1β expression in mice exposed to chronic social defeat stress

  • 2021-08
  • Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 96
    • Aika Kosuge
    • Kazuo Kunisawa
    • S. Arai
    • Yumika Sugawara
    • Katsuki Shinohara
    • Tsubasa Iida
    • Bolati Wulaer
    • T. Kawai
    • H. Fujigaki
    • Yasuko Yamamoto
    • Kuniaki Saito
    • T. Nabeshima
    • A. Mouri


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and serious psychiatric disease that involves brain inflammation. Bifidobacterium breve is commonly used as a probiotic and was shown to improve colitis and allergic diseases by suppressing the inflammatory response. Heat-sterilized B. breve has beneficial effects on inflammation. We hypothesize, therefore, that this probiotic might reduce depression symptoms. We tested this is a mouse model of social defeat stress. C57BL/6J mice exposed to chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) for five consecutive days developed a mild depression-like behavior characterized by a social interaction impairment. CSDS also altered the gut microbiota composition, such as increased abundance of Bacilli, Bacteroidia, Mollicutes, and Verrucomicrobiae classes and decreased Erysipelotrichi class. The prophylactic effect of heat-sterilized B. breve as a functional food ingredient was evaluated on the depression-like behavior in mice. The supplementation started two weeks before and lasted two weeks after the last exposure to CSDS. Two weeks after CSDS, the mice showed deficits in social interaction and increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus (HIP). Heat-sterilized B. breve supplementation significantly prevented social interaction impairment, suppressed IL-1β increase in the PFC and HIP, and modulated the alteration of the gut microbiota composition induced by CSDS. These findings suggest that heat-sterilized B. breve prevents depression-like behavior and IL-1β expression induced by CSDS through modulation of the gut microbiota composition in mice. Therefore, heat-sterilized B. breve used as an ingredient of functional food might prevent MDD.

Keywords: CSDS; Depression; Gut-brain axis; Heat-sterilized Bifidobacterium; Interleukin-1β.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Bifidobacterium breveImproved Gut Microbiota CompositionBeneficial
Bifidobacterium breveReduced Depressive BehaviorBeneficial
Bifidobacterium breveReduced Interleukin-1β ExpressionBeneficial

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