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Last updated January 1, 2014

Probiotic Abstracts

Compiled by Melissa Kaplan. Additional abstracts may be found through PubMed and Scirus


Characterization of two Bacillus probiotics
Green DH, Wakeley PR, Page A, Barnes A, Baccigalupi L, Ricca E, Cutting SM. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, United Kingdom. Appl Environ Microbiol 1999 Sep;65(9):4288-91

Bacillus subtilis is currently used as an oral probiotic. We examined two commercial B. subtilis probiotic preparations, Enterogermina and Biosubtyl. Surprisingly, physiological and genetic characterization of the bacteria contained in each of these preparations has shown that neither contains B. subtilis. Full Text


Public health issues arising from microbiological and labelling quality of foods and supplements containing probiotic microorganisms
Hamilton-Miller JM, Shah S, Winkler JT. Department of Medical Microbiology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK. Public Health Nutr 1999 Jun;2(2):223-9

OBJECTIVE: To assess the accuracy and helpfulness of labelling on products containing probiotic bacteria.

DESIGN AND SETTING: 52 such products - 44 from the UK (21 supplements, 15 fermented functional foods, eight 'health-care' products) and eight from continental Europe - have been tested for microbiological content, and results compared to the information available on their labels. Products were stored in the dark at 4 degrees C and analysed before their expiry or sell-by date. Careful note was taken of wording on labels, package inserts, packaging, promotional literature and catalogue descriptions, as applicable. Products were cultured on appropriate bacteriological media, and organisms grown were counted and identified.

RESULTS: Bioyoghurts gave no indication of numbers, and only five accurately described their bacterial content; results of culture were usually satisfactory. 'Healthcare' products (mostly intended for the bowel) usually indicated the presence of bacteria, but the numerical content was hard to ascertain, and cultural results fell short of label claims. Supplements were sometimes incorrectly labelled in bacteriological terms, and often contained markedly reduced numbers and/or had extraneous strains and/or strains specified on the label were missing. Products from continental Europe (that were sold for specific medical indications) seemed of a higher microbiological standard. The potential pathogen Enterococcus faecium was found in nine products. The most successful of the new functional foods in Britain now contain probiotics, and probiotic preparations are prominent among the expanding range of nutritional supplements presently available to consumers.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings have public health implications, and suggest that improvements are needed in labelling and quality assurance procedures for products containing probiotic organisms. The presence of the potential pathogen Enterococcus faecium (intentionally or as a contaminant) in some products calls for a review of the value of this species as a probiotic.


Probiotics: from myth to reality. Demonstration of functionality in animal models of disease and in human clinical trials
Dunne C, Murphy L, Flynn S, O'Mahony L, O'Halloran S, Feeney M, Morrissey D, Thornton G, Fitzgerald G, Daly C, Kiely B, Quigley EM, O'Sullivan GC, Shanahan F, Collins JK. Department of Microbiology, University College, Cork, Ireland.
Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 1999 Jul-Nov;76(1-4):279-92

The enteric flora comprise approximately 95% of the total number of cells in the human body and are capable of eliciting immune responses while also protecting against microbial pathogens. However, the resident bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) may also be implicated in the pathogenesis of several chronic conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The University College Cork-based Probiotic Research Group has successfully isolated and identified lactic acid bacteria (LAB) which exhibit beneficial probiotic traits. These characteristics include the demonstration of bile tolerance; acid resistance; adherence to host epithelial tissue; and in vitro antagonism of potentially-pathogenic micro-organisms or those which have been implicated in promoting inflammation. The primary objective of this report is to describe the strategy adopted for the selection of potentially effective probiotic bacteria. The study further describes the evaluation of two members of the resulting panel of micro-organisms (Lactobacillus salivarius subsp. salivarius UCC118 and Bifidobacterium longum infantis 35624) under in vitro conditions and throughout in vivo murine and human feeding trials. Specifically, an initial feeding study completed in Balb/c mice focused upon (i) effective delivery of the probiotic micro-organisms to the GIT and evaluation of the ability of the introduced strains to survive transit through, and possibly colonise, the murine GIT; (ii) accepting the complexity of the hostile GIT and faecal environments, development of a method of enumerating the introduced bacterial strains using conventional microbiological techniques; and (iii) assessment of the effects of administered bacterial strains on the numbers of specific recoverable indigenous bacteria in the murine GIT and faeces. Additional research, exploiting the availability of murine models of inflammatory bowel disease, demonstrated the beneficial effects of administering probiotic combinations of Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 and Bifidobacterium longum infantis 35624 in prevention of illness-related weight loss. A further ethically-approved feeding trial, successfully conducted in 80 healthy volunteers, demonstrated that yoghurt can be used as a vehicle for delivery of Lactobacillus salivarius strain UCC118 to the human GIT with considerable efficacy in influencing gut flora and colonisation.


Functionality of probiotics and intestinal lactobacilli: light in the intestinal tract tunnel.
Vaughan EE, Mollet B, deVos WM. Laboratory of Microbiology Department of Biomolecular Sciences Hesselink van Suchtelenweg 4, 6703 CT, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Curr Opin Biotechnol 1999 Oct;10(5):505-10

The commercial interest in functional foods that contain live microorganisms, also termed probiotics, is paralleled by increasing scientific attention to their functionality in the digestive tract. Most studies are focused on intestinal Lactobacillus species, which are part of the natural gastro-intestinal microbiota, and include analysis of colonisation factors and other interactions with the host, the design of novel or improved strains with specific health benefits, and the application of sophisticated molecular tools to determine their fate and activity in situ.


Probiotics plus antibiotics: regulating our bacterial environment
Saavedra JM.
J Pediatr 1999 Nov;135(5):535-7. No abstract available. Full Text. Comments: Comment on: J Pediatr 1999 Nov;135(5):564-8


Lactobacillus salivarius CTC2197 prevents Salmonella enteritidis colonization in chickens
Pascual M, Hugas M, Badiola JI, Monfort JM, Garriga M. Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA), Meat Technology Center-CeRTA, 17121 Monells, Spain. Appl Environ Microbiol 1999 Nov;65(11):4981-6

A rifampin-resistant Lactobacillus salivarius strain, CTC2197, was assessed as a probiotic in poultry, by studying its ability to prevent Salmonella enteritidis C-114 colonization in chickens. When the probiotic strain was dosed by oral gavage together with S. enteritidis C-114 directly into the proventriculus in 1-day-old Leghorn chickens, the pathogen was completely removed from the birds after 21 days. The same results were obtained when the probiotic strain was also administered through the feed and the drinking water apart from direct inoculation into the proventriculus. The inclusion of L. salivarius CTC2197 in the first day chicken feed revealed that a concentration of 10(5) CFU g(-1) was enough to ensure the colonization of the gastrointestinal tract of the birds after 1 week. However, between 21 and 28 days, L. salivarius CTC2197 was undetectable in the gastrointestinal tract of some birds, showing that more than one dose would be necessary to ensure its presence till the end of the rearing time. Freeze-drying and freezing with glycerol or skim milk as cryoprotective agents, appeared to be suitable methods to preserve the probiotic strain. The inclusion of the L. salivarius CTC2197 in a commercial feed mixture seemed to be a good way to supply it on the farm, although the strain showed sensitivity to the temperatures used during the feed mixture storage and in the chicken incubator rooms. Moreover, survival had been improved after several reinoculations in chicken feed mixture. Full Text


Probiotics and gastrointestinal health
Gorbach SL. Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.
Am J Gastroenterol 2000 Jan;95(1 Suppl):S2-4

Evidence for positive health benefits of Lactobacilli applies to only a few strains used for commercial applications. It is generally agreed that a probiotic must be capable of colonizing the intestinal tract to influence human health; this requirement disqualifies many of the strains currently used in fermented dairy products. Lactobacillus GG, a variant of L. casei sps rhamnosus, has been studied extensively in adults and children. When consumed as a dairy product or as a lyophilized powder, LGG colonizes the gastrointestinal tract for 1-3 days in most individuals and up to 7 days in about 30% of subjects. Traveler's diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and relapsing Clostridium difficile colitis are improved with LGG. In infantile diarrhea, the severity and duration of the attack is reduced. LGG-fermented milk lessens the intestinal permeability defects caused by exposure to cows milk or rotavirus infection. LGG has proven beneficial effects on intestinal immunity. It increases the numbers of IgA and other immunoglobulin-secreting cells in the intestinal mucosa. LGG stimulates local release of interferon. It facilitates antigen transport to underlying lymphoid cells, which serves to increase antigen uptake in Peyer's patches. LGG also acts as an immunoadjuvant for oral vaccines. In an animal model of colon cancer, LGG reduced the incidence of chemically induced tumors in the large bowel of rodents. Extensive safety testing has shown no pathogenic potential in humans or animals. Probiotic cultures of Lactobacilli have the potential to bring substantial health benefits to the consumer. The purported benefits for any probiotic must pass the highest standards of scientific scrutiny before the claims can be accepted.


Immunology. Therapeutic manipulation of gut flora
Shanahan F. Department of Medicine, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland.
Science 2000 Aug 25;289(5483):1311-2. Comment on: Science 2000 Aug 25;289(5483):1352-5 Full Text?


Modulation of humoral immune response through probiotic intake
Fangac H, Elinaa T, Heikkib A, Seppoa S. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 2000 Sep 1;29(1):47-52

Thirty healthy volunteers were randomised into three different treatment groups and consumed Lactobacillus GG, Lactococcus lactis or placebo (ethyl cellulose) for 7 days. On days 1, 3 and 5, an attenuated Salmonella typhi Ty21a oral vaccine was given to all subjects to mimic an enteropathogenic infection. All subjects responded well to the vaccine, but no significant differences were observed in numbers of IgA-, IgG- and IgM-secreting cells among the different groups. There was a trend towards a greater increase in specific IgA among the subjects receiving the vaccine in combination with Lactobacillus GG. Those receiving L. lactis with their vaccine evinced significantly higher CR3 receptor expression on neutrophils than those receiving either the placebo or Lactobacillus GG. These results indicate that probiotics may influence differently the immune response to oral S. typhi vaccine and that the immunomodulatory effect of probiotics is strain-dependent.


Prebiotics and probiotics: are they functional foods?
Roberfroid MB. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Jun;71(6 Suppl):1682S-7S; discussion 1688S-90S

A probiotic is a viable microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host through its effects in the intestinal tract. Probiotics are widely used to prepare fermented dairy products such as yogurt or freeze-dried cultures. In the future, they may also be found in fermented vegetables and meats. Several health-related effects associated with the intake of probiotics, including alleviation of lactose intolerance and immune enhancement, have been reported in human studies. Some evidence suggests a role for probiotics in reducing the risk of rotavirus-induced diarrhea and colon cancer. Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that benefit the host by selectively stimulating the growth or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon. Work with prebiotics has been limited, and only studies involving the inulin-type fructans have generated sufficient data for thorough evaluation regarding their possible use as functional food ingredients. At present, claims about reduction of disease risk are only tentative and further research is needed. Among the claims are constipation relief, suppression of diarrhea, and reduction of the risks of osteoporosis, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease associated with dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, obesity, and possibly type 2 diabetes. The combination of probiotics and prebiotics in a synbiotic has not been studied. This combination might improve the survival of the bacteria crossing the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby enhancing their effects in the large bowel. In addition, their effects might be additive or even synergistic. Full Text


The role of probiotic cultures in the control of gastrointestinal health
Rolfe RD. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock 79430, USA.
J Nutr 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):396S-402S

The use of probiotics to enhance intestinal health has been proposed for many years. Probiotics are traditionally defined as viable microorganisms that have a beneficial effect in the prevention and treatment of specific pathologic conditions when they are ingested. There is a relatively large volume of literature that supports the use of probiotics to prevent or treat intestinal disorders. However, the scientific basis of probiotic use has been firmly established only recently, and sound clinical studies have begun to be published. Currently, the best-studied probiotics are the lactic acid bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium sp. However, other organisms used as probiotics in humans include Escherichia coli, Streptococcus sp., Enterococcus sp., Bacteroides sp., Bacillus sp., Propionibacterium sp. and various fungi. Some probiotic preparations contain mixtures of more than one bacterial strain. Probiotics have been examined for their effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of a diverse spectrum of gastrointestinal disorders such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea (including Clostridium difficile-associated intestinal disease), infectious bacterial and viral diarrhea (including diarrhea caused by rotavirus, Shigella, Salmonella, enterotoxigenic E. coli, Vibrio cholerae and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency disorder, enteral feeding diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori gastroenteritis, sucrase maltase deficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, small bowel bacterial overgrowth and lactose intolerance. Probiotics have been found to inhibit intestinal bacterial enzymes involved in the synthesis of colonic carcinogens. There are many mechanisms by which probiotics enhance intestinal health, including stimulation of immunity, competition for limited nutrients, inhibition of epithelial and mucosal adherence, inhibition of epithelial invasion and production of antimicrobial substances. Probiotics represent an exciting prophylactic and therapeutic advance, although additional investigations must be undertaken before their role in intestinal health can be delineated clearly.


Enhancement of natural immune function by dietary consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis (HN019).
Arunachalam K, Gill HS, Chandra RK. Memorial University of Newfoundland, Janeway Child Health Centre, St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada.
Eur J Clin Nutr 2000 Mar;54(3):263-7

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of dietary consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis (strain HN019, DR10TM) on natural immunity. DESIGN: A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

SETTING: Janeway Medical Centre, Memorial University, St Johns, Newfoundland.

SUBJECTS: Twenty-five healthy elderly volunteers (median age 69 y; range 60-83 y).

INTERVENTIONS: Twelve control subjects consumed 180 ml low-fat/low-lactose milk twice daily for a period of 6 weeks; 13 test subjects consumed milk supplemented with 1.5x1011 colony-forming units of B. lactis twice daily. Indices of natural immunity, including interferon production, phagocytic capacity and phagocyte-mediated bactericidal activity, were determined via peripheral blood at 0, 3, 6 and 12 weeks post-trial commencement.

RESULTS: Subjects who consumed milk containing B. lactis for 6 weeks produced significantly enhanced levels of interferon-alpha, upon stimulation of their peripheral blood mononuclear cells in culture, in comparison to the placebo control group who received milk alone. There were also significant increases in polymorphonuclear cell phagocytic capacity among test group subjects, following consumption of milk supplemented with B. lactis, while individuals who consumed B. lactis-supplemented milk or milk alone showed enhanced phagocyte-mediated bactericidal activity.

CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that dietary consumption of B. lactis HN019 can enhance natural immunity in healthy elderly subjects, and that a relatively short-term dietary regime (6 weeks) is sufficient to impart measurable improvements in immunity that may offer significant health benefits to consumers.

SPONSORS: Financial support for this project was provided by the New Zealand Dairy Board.

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