The aim of this study was to investigate if dietary administration of.-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-producing Lactobacillus brevis DPC 6108 and pure GABA exert protective effects against the development of diabetes in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic Sprague Dawley rats. In a first experiment, healthy rats were divided in 3 groups (n=10/group) receiving placebo, 2.6 mg/kg body weight (bw) pure GABA or L. brevis DPC 6108 (similar to 10(9) microorganisms). In a second experiment, rats (n=15/group) were randomised to five groups and four of these received an injection of STZ to induce type 1 diabetes. Diabetic and non-diabetic controls received placebo [4% (w/v) yeast extract in dH(2)O], while the other three diabetic groups received one of the following dietary supplements: 2.6 mg/kg bw GABA (low GABA), 200 mg/kg bw GABA (high GABA) or similar to 10(9) L. brevis DPC 6108. L. brevis DPC 6108 supplementation was associated with increased serum insulin levels (P<0.05), but did not alter other metabolic markers in healthy rats. Diabetes induced by STZ injection decreased body weight (P<0.05), increased intestinal length (P<0.05) and stimulated water and food intake. Insulin was decreased (P<0.05), whereas glucose was increased (P<0.001) in all diabetic groups, compared with non-diabetic controls. A decrease (P<0.01) in glucose levels was observed in diabetic rats receiving L. brevis DPC 6108, compared with diabetic-controls. Both the composition and diversity of the intestinal microbiota were affected by diabetes. Microbial diversity in diabetic rats supplemented with low GABA was not reduced (P>0.05), compared with non-diabetic controls while all other diabetic groups displayed reduced diversity (P<0.05). L. brevis DPC 6108 attenuated hyperglycaemia induced by diabetes but additional studies are needed to understand the mechanisms involved in this reduction.