A therapeutic strategy through the gut-brain axis has been proven to be effective in treatment for depression. In our previous study, we demonstrated that Enterococcus faecalis 2001 (EF-2001) prevents colitis-induced depressive-like behavior through the gut-brain axis in mice. More recently, we found that demyelination in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was associated with depressive-like behavior in an animal model of major depressive disorder, olfactory bulbectomized (OBX) mice. The present study investigated the effects of EF-2001 on depressive-like behaviors in OBX mice and the underlying molecular mechanisms from the perspective of myelination in the PFC. OBX mice exhibited depressive-like behaviors in the tail-suspension, splash, and sucrose preference tests, and decreased myelin and paranodal proteins along with mature oligodendrocytes in the PFC. These behavioral and biochemical changes were all prevented by treatment with EF-2001. Further, EF-2001 treatment increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) in the PFC. Interestingly, an immunohistochemical analysis revealed enhanced phospho (p) -cAMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) expression in neurons, p-nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) p65 (Ser536) expression in astrocytes, and p-signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) (Ty705) expression in mature oligodendrocytes in the PFC of OBX mice. From these results, we suggest that EF-2001 administration prevents depressive-like behaviors by regulating prefrontal cortical myelination via the enhancement of CREB/BDNF and NFκB p65/LIF/STAT3 pathways. Our findings strongly support the idea that a therapeutic strategy involving the gut microbiota may be a promising alternative treatment for alleviating symptoms of depression.
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