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Behav Brain Res. 2019 Apr 19;362:213-223. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.12.047. Epub 2018 Dec 28.

Heat-killed lactobacilli alter both microbiota composition and behaviour.

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APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioural Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland; School of Microbiology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. Electronic address:


Recently it has been proposed to expand the definition of psychobiotics (beneficial bacteria (probiotics) or support for such bacteria (prebiotics) that positively impact mental health) to any exogenous influence whose effect on the brain is bacterially-mediated. This definition would include inactivated microorganisms with anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. The use of inactivated microorganisms has several advantages over living organisms, including no risk of infection in vulnerable individuals and ease of use in terms of storage and delivery options. It has been reported that consumption of inactivated microorganisms can affect behaviour, particularly in chronic or prolonged stress situations, but effects on healthy populations have not been investigated to the same extent. Also, only limited data is available on the effects of inactivated microorganisms on the microbiota of healthy individuals (animal or human). Therefore, we investigated the effect of feeding a standard mouse chow which incorporates ADR-159, a heat-killed fermentate generated by two Lactobacillus strains, on the behaviour and microbiota of healthy mice. Prolonged consumption of ADR-159 diet had no adverse effect on anthropometrics or general health, but the ADR-159 fed animals demonstrated increased sociability and lower baseline corticosterone levels (stress hormone). The diet also led to subtle but significant changes in the microbiota, with less abundant taxa being most affected. The behavioural, biochemical and microbiological results provide a new light on the impact of inactivated microorganisms and their metabolites on the social behaviour and microbiota of healthy mice.


Behaviour; Gut-brain axis; Heat-inactivated bacteria; Lactobacillus; Paraprobiotics; Social preference

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