Sexier mice eat probiotic yogurt: researcher hints at human implications

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probiotic

Probiotics could inspire 'mouse swagger' (Picture Copyright: Kim Carpenter/Flickr)
Probiotics could inspire 'mouse swagger' (Picture Copyright: Kim Carpenter/Flickr)
The co-author of a research paper that found that mice fed probiotic yogurt displayed 'mouse swagger' and better sexual performance has told that the findings were potentially relevant to humans.

An unpublished study written by two scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that mice fed probiotic yogurt were shinier than other mice with thicker fur, while males projected their testes outwards and exuded a certain ‘mouse swagger’.

Testicles were on average 5% heavier than those in mice fed typical diets alone, and 15% heavier than those of males fed the ‘junk food’ diet.

Faster insemination

Mating experiments also showed that males inseminated partners faster and produced more babies than control mice, while females eating yogurt weaned larger litters more effectively.

Asked whether she believed the results could recur on a human level, to any extent, co-author and cancer biologist Susan Erdman from the MIT told

“There’s certainly potential relevance to humans. Journalist Elie Dolgin who authored a piece for Scientific American and researches the topic learned that Harvard researchers [led by Jorge Chavarro] discovered improved semen quality in men eating yogurt.”

Probiotic organisms

Erdman added that she and co-author, evolutionary geneticist Eric Alm, believed that the results were due to probiotic organisms in the yogurt; they initially began research last summer to better understand the effects of yogurt on obesity.

Taking a cohort of 40 male and 40 female mice, the scientists fed them with either a high-fat, low-fibre, low-nutrient diet (to mimic junk food) or standard mouse meals.

Thereafter, they supplemented half of the food within each diet group with vanilla-flavoured probiotic yogurt to assess how probiotics in the diet impacted obesity and its complications such as cancer, before observing the unexpected effects.

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Enquiring minds want to know

Posted by GMan,

OK. Let's assume that the mice fed yogurt had the benefits described. Did the control (mouse food) diet include any dairy? Did it include yogurt without probiotics? Not sure how we can ascribe the benefits to probiotics without knowing this.

I think this research is fine and good. Millions of dollars go towards infertility treatments that could be saved. Plus, there are few behaviors more important to society than how children are raised. I would urge the authors to either write up both parts of the study for review, and/or go back and confirm the specific cause(s) and write it up. If true, there will be no shortage of human volunteers for the clinical trial!

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Posted by Mike,

This study tells us to make sure to not feed mice probiotic yogurt. This is good to know unless you are rasing mice. But what about the original intent of the study? Did the study determine any impact as concerns obesity? Otherwise, I agree with Keith. What a waste to continue the study.

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Sexier mice?

Posted by Keith,

What a waste of research money. Who can really can tell what is sexier to a mouse? There are better research projects that could have used this funding.

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