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Early life stress is a risk factor for later development of alcohol use disorders and anxiety disorders in humans. Using rodent experimental models, we know that rats experiencing social isolation as early-life stress exhibit greater anxiety-like behavior and alcohol consumption than rats housed in groups. Examining potential preventive strategies, we investigated the effects of probiotics, which have previously been shown to decrease rodent anxiety-like behavior, on the relationship between early-life stress and anxiety-like behavior in rats. We hypothesized that probiotics consumption would decrease anxiety-like behavior in socially isolated rats, as well as in rats housed in groups. To our surprise, we found that the probiotics had no significant effect on anxiety-like behavior for socially isolated rats but significantly increased anxiety-like behavior in rats housed in groups. Our results suggest probiotics do not have a positive benefit to alleviate consequences of early life stress and raise caution for their therapeutic use.

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Honors Thesis

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Tracy R Butler, Yvonne Y Sun

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Stander Symposium poster


Presenter: Parker Maddison Griff

Chronic administration of probiotic L. rhamnosus increases anxiety-like behavior in group-housed male Long Evans rats