Bugs may help modulate the relationship between our brains and immune systems, according to a new preliminary study. Oxford University researchers found, for the first time, that prebiotics may actually be able to reverse anxiety caused by inflammation.
The work provides further evidence of the link between the immune and central nervous systems in the development of anxiety and other stress related disorders, according to a release about the preclinical trial published on biospace.com. The journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity published the results of the pre-clinical, rodent study.
Previously, scientists found that probiotics can have a positive effect on the central nervous system, behavior and the immune system. Earlier this year, in a related study, Oxford University researchers found that human subjects who took a prebiotic showed a significantly lower salivary cortisol awakening response (a stress indicator), when compared to subjects who had taken a placebo. The new study strengthens this connection between brain-based anxiety and belly-based bugs, and goes further to include the immune system in the process—the first time a prebiotic has been shown to impact all three in a single study.
The researchers wrote: “Our data suggest a potential role for prebiotics in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders where anxiety and neuroinflammation are prominent clinical features.”
Both studies are part of a long-term project supported by prebiotic supplier Clasado Biosciences and conducted by Oxford University to understand the effects of prebiotics on the brain, gut and immune system.