Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 1625–1633 | Cite as

Probiotics decrease depressive behaviors induced by constipation via activating the AKT signaling pathway

  • Nana Xu
  • Wenting Fan
  • Xiaoyan Zhou
  • Yaping Liu
  • Ping Ma
  • Suhua QiEmail author
  • Bing GuEmail author
Original Article


Chronic constipation is often accompanied by emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. The aim of this study was to determine whether administration of a multispecies probiotic can decrease depressive behaviors through the gut-brain axis and identify any underlying mechanisms. A mouse model of constipation induced by loperamide (5 mg·kg−1,i.p.) was used. For that purpose, 36 ICR male mice were divided into three groups: control, constipation and probiotic groups. The probiotic group received treatment with a probiotic once per day for 14 days via a gavage. All other groups were given an equal volume of normal saline. The fecal parameters and intestinal transit ratio were recorded. The forced swimming test and tail suspension test were used to detect changes in depressive behaviors. Total superoxide dismutase (T-SOD) activity and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured by assay kits. We also detected neuronal survival, as well as phosphorylated Ser/Thr protein kinase (p-AKT), Bcl-2, Bcl-2 associated X protein (Bax) and cleaved caspase-3 levels in the hippocampus. The results showed that administration of a probiotic could ameliorate depressive behaviors and relieve neuronal cell injury in the hippocampal CA3 regions. Moreover, probiotic treatment decreased MDA levels and increased SOD activity. Furthermore, probiotic administration increased p-AKT and Bcl-2 levels in the hippocampus of the constipated mice, while decreasing the concentrations of Bax and cleaved caspase-3, so as to inhibit the neural apoptosis. In the present study, we confirm that probiotics can alleviate depression induced by constipation through protecting neuronal health via activation of the AKT signaling pathway.


Oxidative stress AKT Depression Probiotic Constipation Microbiota-gut-brain axis 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81471994), Jiangsu Privincial Natural Science Foundation (BK20151154), Jiangsu Privincial Medical Talent (ZDRCA2016053), Six talent peaks project of Jiangsu Province (WSN-135), Advanced health talent of six-one project of Jiangsu Province (LGY2016042), and Jiangsu Provincial Commission of Health and Family Planning Research Project (H201631). The authors thank Renxian Tang, Xiaomei Liu, Feng Zhou, Xiaotian Wang of Department of Pathogen Biology and Immunology, Laboratory of Infection and Immunity of Xuzhou Medical University for their support and help during the experiments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors state that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of MorphologyXuzhou Medical UniversityXuzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Medical Technology School, Xuzhou Medical UniversityXuzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Laboratory MedicineAffiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical UniversityXuzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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