Microbial colonization of the gut early in life is crucial for the development of the immune and nervous systems, as well as influencing metabolism and weight gain. While early life exposure to antibiotics can cause microbial dysbiosis, prebiotics are non-digestible substrates that selectively promote the growth of beneficial gut microbiota. Our objective was to examine the effects of dietary prebiotic administration on the consequences of maternal antibiotic intake on offspring body weight, behavior, and neuroimmune responses later in life. Sprague-Dawley rat dams were given low-dose penicillin (LDP), prebiotic fiber (10% oligofructose), or both, during the third week of pregnancy and throughout lactation. Anxiety-like behavior, weight gain, body composition, cecal microbiota composition, and microglial responses to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were assessed in offspring. Male and female prebiotic offspring had lower body weight compared to antibiotic offspring. Maternal antibiotic exposure resulted in lasting effects on select offspring microbiota including a lower relative abundance of Streptococcus, Lactococcus, and Eubacterium at 10 weeks of age. Maternal antibiotic use impaired microglial response to LPS in the hypothalamus compared to control, and this phenotype was reversed with prebiotic. Prebiotic fiber warrants further investigation as an adjunct to antibiotic use during pregnancy.
- Gut microbiota