Colitis-associated microbiota drives changes in behaviour in male mice in the absence of inflammation Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. IBD are associated with a high prevalence of cognitive, behavioural and emotional comorbidities, including anxiety and depression. The link between IBD and the development of behavioural comorbidities is poorly understood. As the intestinal microbiota profoundly influences host behaviour, we sought to determine whether the altered gut microbiota associated with intestinal inflammation contributes to the development of behavioural abnormalities. Using the dextran sulphate sodium (DSS) model of colitis, we characterized intestinal inflammation, behaviour (elevated plus maze and tail suspension test) and the composition of the microbiota in male mice. Cecal contents from colitic mice were transferred into germ-free (GF) or antibiotic (Abx)-treated mice, and behaviour was characterized in recipient mice. Gene expression was measured using qPCR. DSS colitis was characterized by a significant reduction in body weight and an increase in colonic inflammatory markers. These changes were accompanied by increased anxiety-like behaviour, an altered gut microbiota composition, and increased central Tnf expression. Transfer of the cecal matter from colitic mice induced similar behavioural changes in both GF and Abx-treated recipient mice, with no signs of colonic or neuroinflammation. Upon characterization of the microbiota in donor and recipient mice, specific taxa were found to be associated with behavioural changes, notably members of the Lachnospiraceae family. Behavioural abnormalities associated with intestinal inflammation are transmissible via transfer of cecal matter, suggesting that alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota play a key role in driving behavioural changes in colitis.


  • Vicentini, Fernando A
  • Szamosi, Jake C
  • Rossi, Laura
  • Griffin, Lateece
  • Nieves, Kristoff
  • Bihan, Dominique
  • Lewis, Ian A
  • Pittman, Quentin J
  • Swain, Mark G
  • Surette, Michael
  • Hirota, Simon A
  • Sharkey, Keith A

publication date

  • May 2022