Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 1155–1164 | Cite as

Probiotic treatment reduces the autistic-like excitation/inhibition imbalance in juvenile hamsters induced by orally administered propionic acid and clindamycin

  • Afaf El-Ansary
  • Abir Ben Bacha
  • Geir Bjørklund
  • Nora Al-Orf
  • Ramesa Shafi Bhat
  • Nadine Moubayed
  • Kawther Abed
Original Article


Increasing evidence suggests that the gut microbiota plays a key role in the central nervous system (CNS), and alterations of the gut microbiota composition due to environmental factors can contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. Animal modeling may help to identify drugs that can normalize the altered gut microbiota and thereby ameliorate abnormal brain signaling pathways. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the therapeutic potency of probiotics such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli on glutamate excitotoxicity as a neurotoxic effect induced by clindamycin and propionic acid (PPA) in juvenile hamsters. Fifty young golden Syrian hamsters weighing between 60 and 70 g were enrolled in the study. The hamsters were randomly divided into five groups, each with ten hamsters. The hamsters in the control group only received phosphate-buffered saline orally. The PPA-treated group received a neurotoxic dose of 250 mg PPA/kg body weight (BW)/day for three days. The clindamycin-treated group received 30 mg clindamycin/kg BW as a single orogastric dose on the day the experiment started. The two therapeutic groups received the same doses of PPA and clindamycin followed by 0.2 g probiotic/kg BW for three weeks. Biochemical parameters related to glutamate excitotoxicity were investigated in brain homogenates from each group of hamsters. Additionally, the development of pathogenic bacteria was monitored in stool samples from all groups. The microbiology results of the present study revealed descriptive changes in the fecal microbiota and the appearance of Clostridium species in the hamsters treated with clindamycin and PPA. Additionally, the effectiveness of the probiotic in the restoration of the normal gut microbiota was demonstrated. Moreover, clindamycin and PPA were found to induce a significant depletion of Mg2+ and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and a remarkable increase in the Na+/Mg2+ and glutamate/GABA ratios but non-significant changes in the absolute levels of K+, Na+ and glutamate. The bacteria overgrowth induced by PPA and clindamycin in the present study effectively showed signs of neuronal toxicity. The study indicates that probiotics can be used safely to ameliorate glutamate excitotoxicity mostly through increasing depleted GABA and Mg2+ and decreasing the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate.


Autism Propionic acid Clindamycin Glutamate Gamma-aminobutyric acid Glutamate excitotoxicity 



This research project was supported by the Deanship of Scientific Research, Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University, Grant number 38-213. Thanks also are due to Ms. Shaista Arzoo, for her appreciated effort in revising the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Laboratory, Female Centre for Scientific and Medical StudiesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.Therapeutic Chemistry DepartmentNational Research CentreCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Biochemistry Department, College of SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Council for Nutritional and Environmental MedicineMo i RanaNorway
  5. 5.Biology Department, College of SciencesKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  6. 6.Biology Department, College of SciencePrincess Nourah bint Abdulrahman UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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