Original Article

Citation: Translational Psychiatry (2016) 6, e939; doi:10.1038/tp.2016.191
Published online 1 November 2016

Bifidobacterium longum 1714 as a translational psychobiotic: modulation of stress, electrophysiology and neurocognition in healthy volunteers

A P Allen1,2, W Hutch3,4, Y E Borre1, P J Kennedy1,2, A Temko5, G Boylan3,4, E Murphy6, J F Cryan1,7,8, T G Dinan1,2 and G Clarke1,2

  1. 1APC Microbiome Institute, Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Science, Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  3. 3INFANT Research Centre, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  5. 5Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  6. 6Alimentary Health Ltd., Cork Airport Business Park, Cork, Ireland
  7. 7Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  8. 8Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Correspondence: Professor TG Dinan, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. E-mail: t.dinan@ucc.ie

Received 11 April 2016; Revised 4 July 2016; Accepted 3 August 2016



The emerging concept of psychobiotics—live microorganisms with a potential mental health benefit—represents a novel approach for the management of stress-related conditions. The majority of studies have focused on animal models. Recent preclinical studies have identified the B. longum 1714 strain as a putative psychobiotic with an impact on stress-related behaviors, physiology and cognitive performance. Whether such preclinical effects could be translated to healthy human volunteers remains unknown. We tested whether psychobiotic consumption could affect the stress response, cognition and brain activity patterns. In a within-participants design, healthy volunteers (N=22) completed cognitive assessments, resting electroencephalography and were exposed to a socially evaluated cold pressor test at baseline, post-placebo and post-psychobiotic. Increases in cortisol output and subjective anxiety in response to the socially evaluated cold pressor test were attenuated. Furthermore, daily reported stress was reduced by psychobiotic consumption. We also observed subtle improvements in hippocampus-dependent visuospatial memory performance, as well as enhanced frontal midline electroencephalographic mobility following psychobiotic consumption. These subtle but clear benefits are in line with the predicted impact from preclinical screening platforms. Our results indicate that consumption of B. longum 1714 is associated with reduced stress and improved memory. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the benefits of this putative psychobiotic in relevant stress-related conditions and to unravel the mechanisms underlying such effects.