Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 decreases subjective academic stress in healthy adults: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

Gut microbes. 2022;14(1):2031695

Plain language summary

Previous research has shown a bidirectional relationship between the gut and psychological stress, which could be mediated by intestinal permeability followed by an immune and inflammatory response. However, the exact mechanisms of this relationship are yet to be elucidated. This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the beneficial effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 on intestinal permeability and stress markers during a public speech in healthy students. Participants consumed either milk containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 or acidified milk twice daily for four weeks to assess subjective and objective stress markers and markers of intestinal permeability. Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 reduced the stress-induced hyperpermeability to mannitol and subjective stress markers (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory/ STAI). A subgroup of healthy students with stress-induced cortisol >P90 of baseline showed a reduction in perceived stress score following Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 intervention. To evaluate the additional effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 on stress and gut health, further robust studies are needed. Healthcare professionals can use the findings of this study to understand the anxiolytic effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690.


Psychological stress negatively affects the intestinal barrier function in animals and humans. We aimed to study the effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 on intestinal permeability and stress-markers during public speech. Healthy students were randomized to L. rhamnosus-containing (test) or acidified (placebo) milk consumed twice daily for 4 weeks, with 46 subjects per treatment group. Small intestinal permeability was quantified by a 2 h urinary lactulose-mannitol ratio (LMR, primary outcome), fractional excretion of lactulose (FEL) and mannitol (FEM). Salivary cortisol, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and Perceived Stress scores (PSS) were collected. No between-treatment differences were found for LMR (p = .71), FEL or FEM. Within-treatment analyses showed similar LMR and FEL but a stress-induced increase of FEM with the placebo (p < .05) but not test product. Despite a similar increase in salivary cortisol, the stress-induced increase in STAI was significantly lower with the test product vs. placebo (p = .01). Moreover, a stress-preventative effect of the probiotic was found for PSS and more pronounced in subjects with high stress-induced cortisol (p = .01). While increased FEM was mediated by salivary cortisol levels, the effect of the test product on subjective stress was not mediated by changes in FEM. No serious adverse events occurred. In conclusion, we demonstrated that L. rhamnosus CNCM I-3690 prevented stress-induced hyperpermeability to mannitol. Subjective but not objective stress-markers were reduced with L. rhamnosus vs. placebo, suggesting anxiolytic effects, which were independent of barrier stabilization and attractive for the reduction of stress in both health and disease., number NCT03408691.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Digestive, absorptive and microbiological
Environmental Inputs : Psychosocial influences ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Stress and resilience ; Psychological
Functional Laboratory Testing : Saliva ; Urine
Bioactive Substances : Lactobacillus rhamnosus CNCM I-3690

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 5
Allocation concealment : Yes