Nutritional approach to restore impaired intestinal barrier function and growth after neonatal stress in rats

Nutrition and Health Department, Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.87). 08/2006; 43(1):16-24. DOI: 10.1097/01.mpg.0000226376.95623.9f
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Psychological stress during the neonatal period results in intestinal barrier dysfunction and growth alterations later in life. We aimed to restore impaired barrier function and growth rate by a nutritional intervention.
Male rat pups (n = 84) were assigned to 1 of 2 rearing conditions from postnatal day (PND) 2 to PND14: S, separated 3 h/d from their mothers, or H, 15 min/d handled controls. From PND15 to PND35, rats received a control diet or a similar diet adapted to contain arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids, galacto- and fructo-oligosaccharides and Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461.
Maternal separation had only a minor impact on the measured gut barrier parameters at PND15, whereas it severely affected them at PND35. At this age, intestinal permeability to macromolecules was higher, mucin content in small intestinal tissues was lower and microbiota composition was altered in S compared with H animals. Feeding the adapted diet normalized the intestinal permeability, although it did not restore intestinal mucin content or microbiota. In addition, the adapted diet improved the growth rate recovery of the S animals after weaning and resulted in increased villus length in small intestine.
Our results suggest that an adapted diet containing specific long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics can revert the negative imprinting of neonatal stress on both intestinal barrier function and growth.

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    • "Despite the growing interest in brain-gut communication and its possible role in the pathogenesis of stress-related psychiatric disorders such as depression, particularly subtypes with accompany GI symptoms and comorbid IBS, there are few studies dedicated to the search for therapeutic solutions that address both central and peripheral facets of these illnesses. As the maternal separation (MS) model in rodents is considered to be of heuristic value in the study of both brain (Meaney et al., 1996; Levine, 2000; Matthews et al., 2001; Daniels et al., 2004; Matthews and Robbins, 2003; Slotten et al., 2006; Aisa et al., 2007) and GI illnesses (Barreau et al., 2004; Garcia-Rodenas et al., 2006; Welting et al., 2005; Couthino et al., 2002; O'Mahony et al., 2009), it provides a valuable tool to explore the extent of overlap of early life stress effects in the brain and gut, and offers an ideal platform for the assessment of more comprehensive treatments that address both peripheral GI and centrallymediated psychological symptoms. Communication between the brain and the gut can be achieved through the activation of various interrelated systems, including neural pathways of the autonomic nervous system (which involves the vagus nerve and the neurotransmitters noradrenaline (NA) and adrenaline), immune cytokines, or through interactions with hormonal mediators of the HPA axis (reviewed by Forsythe et al., 2010). "
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