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Probiotics could reduce perceived stress

Presented by
Dr Julie Hudry, Nestlé Institute of Health Science, Switzerland
ECNP 2022
In a randomised trial, the ingestion of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 for 6 weeks reduced the level of perceived stress in healthy adults.

There is growing evidence that dietary patterns are linked to mental disorders, including depression, stress, and anxiety, and the gut microbiome is recognised as a contributing factor in this association [1,2]. Targeting the gut microbiota with probiotics, like Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, has shown to decrease anxiety in an animal model and to improve depressive symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome [3,4]. Dr Julie Hudry (Nestlé Institute of Health Science, Switzerland) presented results from a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial aiming to evaluate the efficacy of B. longum NCC3001 in improving mental health in healthy but stressed adults [5].

A total of 49 participants ages 25–65 years were randomised 1:1 to ingest the probiotic B. longum NCC3001 (1010 CFU, once daily) or placebo for 6 weeks. Stress levels at baseline were monitored using the self-reported Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS)-42 score. All participants had mild-to-moderate stress at baseline. At baseline and after 6 weeks, measurement of acute stress response (Maastricht Acute Test, MAST) was performed, as well as several general assessments regarding probiotics in stool, perceived stress, sleep quality, and anxiety.

Ingestion of the probiotic increased the abundance of B. longum NCC3001 in the gut and significantly decreased perceived stress: the median decrease in Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)-14 score was 23% in the probiotic group versus 4% in the placebo group (P=0.0169; see Figure). Ingestion of the probiotic had no significant effect on anxiety and depression scores. Of note, in this healthy population, anxiety and depression were already quite low at baseline, Dr Hudry remarked. On the other hand, on an individual level, a positive correlation was found between the reduction of perceived stress and the reduction in anxiety (r=0.32) and depression (r=0.34), and with improvements in cortisol awakening response (r=0.30).

Figure: Probiotic intervention significantly decreased perceived stress [5]

“This exploratory trial provides first insights into psychological benefits of B. longum NCC3001,” concluded Dr Hudry.

  1. Marx W, et al. Mol Psychiatry. 2021;26:134–150.
  2. Margolis KG, et al. Gasteroenterology. 2021;160:1486–1501.
  3. Bercik P, et al. Gasteroenterology. 2011;14:599–609.
  4. Pinto-Sanchez MI, et al. Gasteroenterology. 2017;15:448–459.
  5. Hudry J, et al. A 6-week intervention with Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 reduces perceived stress in healthy adults: A randomized control trial. Abstract S07.02, ECNP Congress 2022, 15–18 October, Vienna, Austria.


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