The Microbiota-Gut-Brain axis (MGBA) is a bidirectional communication pathway between gut bacteria and the central nervous system (CNS) (including the intestine) that exerts a profound influence on neural development, neuroinflammation, activation of stress response and neurotransmission, in addition to modulating complex behaviours, such as sociability and anxiety. Several MGBA modulating approaches are possible, such as probiotic administration. A reasonable pharmacological approach would also be the contemporarily administration of both prebiotics and postbiotics. To test this hypothesis, we probed the effects of α-lactalbumin (ALAC; a prebiotic in the dose range of 125–500 mg/kg) and sodium butyrate (NaB; a postbiotic in the dose range of 30–300 mg/kg) alone and in combination. We used two animal behavioural models of idiopathic autism, (BTBR mice) and anxiety/depression (chronic unexpected mild stress - CUMS mice) respectively, using several standard behavioural paradigms such as Three-chamber social interaction test, Marble burying assay, depression-, anxiety- and memory-tests. In BTBR autistic mice, we found that both ALAC and NaB improve animal sociability, and memory in the passive avoidance (PA); drug combination was more effective in almost all tests also reducing immobility time in the forced swimming test (FST), which was not affected by single drug administration. Similarly, in the CUMS mice, single drug administration was effective in improving: 1) depressive-like behaviour in the FST and sucrose preference test; 2) memory and learning in the PA, novel object recognition and Morris water maze tests. Drug combination was again more effective than single drug administration in most cases; however, in the CUMS model, neither single drug or combination was effective in the elevated plus maze test for anxiety. Our results suggest that in both models, ALAC and NaB combination is more effective in improving some pathological aspects of animal behaviour than single administration and that the prebiotic/postbiotic approach should be considered a reasonable approach for the manipulation of the MGBA to improve efficacy.
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