News and Research: Boosting GABA with probiotic

Study: Bifidobacterium adolescentis as a key member of the human gut microbiota in the production of GABA  Aug. 2020

This new study published in Nature Research looked at over a thousand different Bifidobacteria strains, investigating how they interact with their host (e.g. you and I).

The results showed that Bifidobacterium adolescentis stimulate the production of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in mood, anxiety, blood pressure, and pain.

(Read more about GABA, and genetics)

The results of this study tie in nicely with other studies showing that probiotic bacterial strains can affect mood and cognition. Previous studies had also shown that a couple of other bifido species produced GABA, but this study showed that B. adolescentis produces the highest amount.

The bifido strains contain the gad gene that converts glutamate into GABA (similar to the human GAD1 gene).

GABA is needed in the right amount by the body. Too little can lead to excess excitatory neuoronal activity (including seizures and mood disorders), but too much GABA can impair thinking and lead to being slow and sleepy (like what happens with alcohol or Valium).

It is thought that GABA doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier – at least not in large amounts. But there are still some questions there, though.  What is known is that there is two-way communication between the gut and the brain, commonly called the gut-brain axis.

Author Information:   Debbie Moon
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. She holds a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and an undergraduate degree in engineering from Colorado School of Mines. Debbie is a science communicator who is passionate about explaining evidence-based health information. Her goal with Genetic Lifehacks is to bridge the gap between the research hidden in scientific journals and everyone's ability to use that information. To contact Debbie, visit the contact page.