The target population is pregnant and postpartum women. A rat model of postpartum depression (PPD) will be used. To accomplish this, groups of laboratory rats (Rattus novergicus) will be subjected to pregnancy stress (or not) to induce PPD-like behaviors, and also treated with probiotic (or not) as a potentialnon-pharmacological treatment to protect against PPD.
After giving birth, the subjects will be assessed for maternal caregiving and depression-like behaviors. Brains will be obtained after behavior testing andfour brain areas strongly implicated in PPD (the midbrain raphe nuclei, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala) will be processed to determine levels of anumber of serotonin system variables. The maternal microbiome will be assessed by obtaining faecal samples at sacrifice.
This study will provide valuable information on the effects of pregnancy stress and PPD on maternal caregiving, the maternal brain-gut axis, and how these factors are alteredby probiotic treatment.