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The prebiotics 3′-sialyllactose and 6′-sialyllactose diminish stressor-induced anxiety-like behavior and colonic microbiota alterations: evidence for effects on the gut–brain axis.

Author: Tarr A, Galley J, Fisher S, Chichlowski M, Berg B and Bailey M. | Journal: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

Volume: 50

Issue: NA



There are extensive bidirectional interactions between the gut microbiota and the central nervous system (CNS), and studies demonstrate that stressor exposure significantly alters gut microbiota community structure.

Objective and Methods:

We tested whether oligosaccharides naturally found in high levels in human milk, which have been reported to impact brain development and enhance the growth of beneficial commensal microbes, would prevent stressor-induced alterations in gut microbial community composition and attenuate stressor-induced anxiety-like behavior. Mice were fed standard laboratory diet, or laboratory diet containing the human milk oligosaccharides 3′Sialyllactose (3′SL) or 6′Sialyllactose (6′SL) for 2 weeks prior to being exposed to either a social disruption stressor or a non-stressed control condition.


Stressor exposure significantly changed the structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota in control mice, as indicated by changes in beta diversity. The stressor resulted in anxiety-like behavior in both the light/dark preference and open field tests in control mice. This effect was associated with a reduction in immature neurons in the dentate gyrus as indicated by doublecortin (DCX) immunostaining. These effects were not evident in mice fed milk oligosaccharides; stressor exposure did not significantly change microbial community structure in mice fed 3′SL or 6′SL. In addition, 3′SL and 6′SL helped maintain normal behavior on tests of anxiety-like behavior and normal numbers of DCX+ immature neurons.


These studies indicate that milk oligosaccharides support normal microbial communities and behavioral responses during stressor exposure, potentially through effects on the gut microbiota–brain axis. Read More

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