How the probiotic Lactobacillus keeps us healthy uncovered
Probiotics are touted for their health benefits. Some evidence suggests taking supplements or eating foods containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), such as yogurt, can help stave off respiratory infections, boost immunity, aid weight loss and more. Researchers have been trying to understanding how so-called friendly gut bacteria work to keep us healthy.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) have uncovered how LGG affects other bacteria in our gut to keep us healthy. The new finding is published in the journal mBio.
Researchers for the study say they wanted to understand how probiotics keep us healthy. So they tested 12 subjects, who took the popular probiotic LGG twice a day for 28 days.
Claire M. Fraser, PhD, professor of medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine and her collaborator Dr. Patricia Hibberd at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered the probiotic modifies the activity of other gut bacteria to promote better health.
"This is a new idea, that some probiotics may work by affecting the overall ecosystem of the gut," said Prof. Fraser in a press release. Rather than working on the host, the finding revealed our guts contain tiny ecosystems that are interconnected.
Fraser added the finding has "exciting implications".
Probiotic works on gut ecosystem
The researchers analyzed gut bacteria from the study participants before and after they took LGG. They found Lactobacillus increases genes that foster Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus - bacteria linked to a variety of health benefits.
Studying the microbiome of the gut is an emerging field of research. The scientists used an innovative technique known as metagenomic analysis that allows bacteria in the intestines to be studied directly from their natural environment.
Information that can be obtained using the technique include specific protein functions, genome sequencing and pinpointing antibiotic resistant genes to help diagnose chronic health conditions.
The finding showing how the popular probiotic works helps answer questions about why Lactobacillus can help keep us healthy and prevent disease. It could also lead to new strategies to help us keep our intestines in tip to shape.
Eloe-Fadrosh EA, Brady A, Crabtree J, Drabek EF, Ma B, Mahurkar A, Ravel J, Haverkamp M, Fiorino A-M, Botelho C, Andreyeva I, Hibberd PL, Fraser CM. 2015. Functional dynamics of the gut microbiome in elderly people during probiotic consumption. mBio 6(2):e00231-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.00231-15.
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