By Stephen Daniells
Probiotic bacteria may affect gene activity and the cellular reactions they control in the human intestine, a study has revealed for the first time.
Consumption of a dairy drink containing three strains of probiotic bacteria was associated with changes in the activity of hundreds of genes, with the changes resembling the effects of certain medicines in the human body, including medicines that positively influence the immune system and those for lowering blood pressure.
Researchers from NIZO Food Research, Maastricht University, UMC St Radboud and Wageningen UR – within the framework of TI Food and Nutrition – report their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“Probiotics cause a local reaction in the mucosa of the small intestines,” said Prof Michiel Kleerebezem of NIZO food research. “These effects are similar to the effects of components that the pharmaceutical industry applies to medicines, but less strong.”
The researchers used dairy drinks containing the commercial probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus Lafti-L10 (DSM), L. casei CRL-431 (Chr. Hansen), and L. rhamnosus GG (Valio) and compared this with a placebo drink. Seven healthy volunteers participated in the study.
Six hours after consumption of these drinks, the researchers took biopsies from the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum) and genetically analysed them. The researchers observed “hundreds of differentially expressed genes that participate in (the regulation of) basal mucosal pathways, some with clinical relevance.
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