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Probiotics attenuate alcohol-induced muscle mechanical hyperalgesia: Preliminary observations


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a major health problem that causes millions of deaths annually world-wide. AUD is considered to be a chronic pain disorder, that is exacerbated by alcohol withdrawal, contributing to a high (∼80%) relapse rate. Chronic alcohol consumption has a marked impact on the gut microbiome, recognized to have a significant effect on chronic pain. We tested the hypothesis that modulating gut microbiota through feeding rats with probiotics can attenuate alcohol-induced muscle mechanical hyperalgesia. To test this hypothesis, rats were fed alcohol (6.5%, 4 days on 3 days off) for 3 weeks, which induced skeletal muscle mechanical hyperalgesia. Following alcohol feeding, at which time nociceptive thresholds were ∼37% below pre-alcohol levels, rats received probiotics in their drinking water, either Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (Culturelle) or De Simone Formulation (a mixture of 8 bacterial species) for 8 days; control rats received plain water to drink. When muscle mechanical nociceptive threshold was evaluated 1 day after beginning probiotic feeding, nociceptive thresholds were significantly higher than rats not receiving probiotics. Mechanical nociceptive thresholds continued to increase during probiotic feeding, with thresholds approaching pre-alcohol levels 5 days after starting probiotics; nociceptive threshold in rats not receiving probiotics remained low. After probiotics were removed from the drinking water, nociceptive thresholds gradually decreased in these two groups, although they remained higher than the group not treated with probiotic (21 days after ending alcohol feeding). These observations suggest that modification of gut microbiota through probiotic feeding has a marked effect on chronic alcohol-induced muscle mechanical hyperalgesia. Our results suggest that administration of probiotics to individuals with AUD may reduce pain associated with alcohol consumption and withdrawal, and may be a novel therapeutic intervention to reduce the high rate of relapse seen in individuals with AUD attempting to abstain from alcohol.

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