The intestine and the brain are connected via the brain-gut axis and the intestinal microbiota influences the immune activation and signaling molecules that are involved in the stress response. The aim of the study was to investigate if intake of the probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9 (LPHEAL9) for four weeks could counteract elevated cortisol and inflammation levels in subjects with chronic stress that are exposed to an acute stress test (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST). Seventy participants were included, and 63 participants completed the study (LPHEAL9, n=32; placebo, n=31). Cardiovascular reactivity and cortisol levels were affected by the TSST, but no differences between the groups were observed. Intake of LPHEAL9 did, however, result in significantly decreased plasma levels of two inflammatory markers (soluble fractalkine and CD163) compared to placebo. In conclusion, intake of LPHEAL9 for four weeks may reduce inflammatory markers coupled to acute stress in chronically stressed individuals.
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