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Nat Commun. 2017 Apr 4;8:15062. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15062.

Low-dose penicillin in early life induces long-term changes in murine gut microbiota, brain cytokines and behavior.

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McMaster Brain-Body Institute at St Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, 50 Charlton Avenue East T3304, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 4A6.
Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, 50 Charlton Avenue East, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 4A6.
Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, Louvain Drug Research Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Avenue E. Mounier 73, Brussels 1200, Belgium.
Faculty of Medicine, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels 1200, Belgium.
Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, Henrietta Szold 8, Safed 1311502, Israel.
Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health and Department of Medicine, McMaster University, 50 Charlton Avenue East, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 4A6.


There is increasing concern about potential long-term effects of antibiotics on children's health. Epidemiological studies have revealed that early-life antibiotic exposure can increase the risk of developing immune and metabolic diseases, and rodent studies have shown that administration of high doses of antibiotics has long-term effects on brain neurochemistry and behaviour. Here we investigate whether low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy and early postnatal life induces long-term effects in the offspring of mice. We find that penicillin has lasting effects in both sexes on gut microbiota, increases cytokine expression in frontal cortex, modifies blood-brain barrier integrity and alters behaviour. The antibiotic-treated mice exhibit impaired anxiety-like and social behaviours, and display aggression. Concurrent supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 prevents some of these alterations. These results warrant further studies on the potential role of early-life antibiotic use in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, and the possible attenuation of these by beneficial bacteria.

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