British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects

Michaël Messaoudia1 c1, Robert Lalondea2, Nicolas Viollea1, Hervé Javelota3, Didier Desora4, Amine Nejdia1, Jean-François Bissona1, Catherine Rougeota5, Matthieu Pichelina6, Murielle Cazaubiela6 and Jean-Marc Cazaubiela6

a1 ETAP-Ethologie Appliquée, Département de neuropsychopharmacologie 13 rue du Bois de la Champelle, 54500 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

a2 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal/St-Luc, Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques, 1058 Rue St-Denis, Montréal, PQ, Canada H2X 3J4

a3 Unité INSERM U954 – Nutrition-Génétique et exposition aux risques environnementaux, Faculté de Médecine de Nancy, Université Henri Poincaré, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

a4 Equipe de Neurosciences Comportementales, URAFPA, INRA UC340, INPL-UHP, BP 172, 54505 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy Cedex, France

a5 Institut Pasteur – Unité de Biochimie Structurale et Cellulaire/URA2185 – CNRS, 28 Rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France

a6 Biofortis Bio-Ouest Ile de Nantes, 21 rue La Noue Bras de Fer, 44200 Nantes, France


In a previous clinical study, a probiotic formulation (PF) consisting of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 (PF) decreased stress-induced gastrointestinal discomfort. Emerging evidence of a role for gut microbiota on central nervous system functions therefore suggests that oral intake of probiotics may have beneficial consequences on mood and psychological distress. The aim of the present study was to investigate the anxiolytic-like activity of PF in rats, and its possible effects on anxiety, depression, stress and coping strategies in healthy human volunteers. In the preclinical study, rats were daily administered PF for 2 weeks and subsequently tested in the conditioned defensive burying test, a screening model for anti-anxiety agents. In the clinical trial, volunteers participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised parallel group study with PF administered for 30 d and assessed with the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-90), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Perceived Stress Scale, the Coping Checklist (CCL) and 24 h urinary free cortisol (UFC). Daily subchronic administration of PF significantly reduced anxiety-like behaviour in rats (P < 0·05) and alleviated psychological distress in volunteers, as measured particularly by the HSCL-90 scale (global severity index, P < 0·05; somatisation, P < 0·05; depression, P < 0·05; and anger–hostility, P < 0·05), the HADS (HADS global score, P < 0·05; and HADS-anxiety, P < 0·06), and by the CCL (problem solving, P < 0·05) and the UFC level (P < 0·05). L. helveticus R0052 and B. longum R0175 taken in combination display anxiolytic-like activity in rats and beneficial psychological effects in healthy human volunteers.

(Received May 11 2010)

(Revised September 23 2010)

(Accepted September 24 2010)

(Online publication October 26 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: M. Messaoudi, fax +33 383 446 441, email


Abbreviations: CCL, Coping Checklist; GI, gastrointestinal; HADS, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; HADS-A, HADS-anxiety; HADS-D, HADS-depression; HPA, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal; HSCL-90, Hopkins Symptom Checklist; MWT, Mann–Whitney U test; PF, probiotic formulation; PL, placebo; PSS, Perceived Stress Scale; WT, Wilcoxon test