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Probiotic Bacteria may influence brain fatty acid composition

Designer probiotic bacteria have the potential to alter brain fatty acid composition according to new research published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research, carried out by Dr. Rebecca Wall and Dr Catherine Stanton and their colleagues at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in Teagasc Moorepark Food Research Centre and University College Cork, demonstrated that mice fed with Bifidobacterium breve NCIMB 702258 and Bifidobacterium breve DPC6330 had altered brain fatty acids and gut microbiota.

‘The finding that bacteria in our gut influence brain fatty acid composition opens up new possibilities for the use of probiotic foods in the promotion of human health and mental well being”, said Catherine Stanton, senior author on the publication and Principal Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland funded Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, at Teagasc.

The researchers showed that mice fed with the conjugated linoleic acid CLA-producing bacterium B. breve NCIMB 702258 had increased levels of two fatty acids ARA and DHA, which play important roles in neurogenesis, neurotransmission and protection against oxidative stress and whose levels in the brain influence cognition.

The researchers also showed that feeding with the CLA-producing B. breve strains is strain dependent on both the fatty acid composition of the mouse brain and on the microbial community in the gut.

These findings could lead to designer probiotics for improved cognition and brain function.

CLA is a fatty acid that is produced in different versions by different bacteria. Previously, Dr Stanton’s group have demonstrated that gut microbes have an impact on host metabolism, and in particular fat composition in liver and adipose tissue in different animal species. They have also shown that microbially produced CLA may have a role in the prevention and treatment of obesity and that CLA was able to reduce the viability of colon cancer cells by 92%.

The research is published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012; Authors: Rebecca Wall, Tatiana M Marques, Orla O'Sullivan, R Paul Ross, Fergus Shanahan, Eamonn M Quigley, Timothy G Dinan, Barry Kiely, Gerald F Fitzgerald, Paul D Cotter, Fiona Fouhy, and Catherine Stanton “Contrasting effects of Bifidobacterium breve NCIMB 702258 and Bifidobacterium breve DPC 6330 on the composition of murine brain fatty acids and gut microbiota” Am J Clin Nutr 2012 ajcn.026435; First published online April 4, 2012. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.026435