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Concept: Lactobacillus

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The decline of circulating testosterone levels in aging men is associated with adverse health effects. During studies of probiotic bacteria and obesity, we discovered that male mice routinely consuming purified lactic acid bacteria originally isolated from human milk had larger testicles and increased serum testosterone levels compared to their age-matched controls. Further investigation using microscopy-assisted histomorphometry of testicular tissue showed that mice consuming Lactobacillus reuteri in their drinking water had significantly increased seminiferous tubule cross-sectional profiles and increased spermatogenesis and Leydig cell numbers per testis when compared with matched diet counterparts This showed that criteria of gonadal aging were reduced after routinely consuming a purified microbe such as L. reuteri. We tested whether these features typical of sustained reproductive fitness may be due to anti-inflammatory properties of L. reuteri, and found that testicular mass and other indicators typical of old age were similarly restored to youthful levels using systemic administration of antibodies blocking pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-17A. This indicated that uncontrolled host inflammatory responses contributed to the testicular atrophy phenotype in aged mice. Reduced circulating testosterone levels have been implicated in many adverse effects; dietary L. reuteri or other probiotic supplementation may provide a viable natural approach to prevention of male hypogonadism, absent the controversy and side-effects of traditional therapies, and yield practical options for management of disorders typically associated with normal aging. These novel findings suggest a potential high impact for microbe therapy in public health by imparting hormonal and gonad features of reproductive fitness typical of much younger healthy individuals.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Testicle, Reproductive system, Sertoli cell, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Puberty

171

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are utilized widely for the fermentation of foods. In the current post-genomic era, tools have been developed that explore genetic diversity among LAB strains aiming to link these variations to differential phenotypes observed in the strains investigated. However, these genotype-phenotype matching approaches fail to assess the role of conserved genes in the determination of physiological characteristics of cultures by environmental conditions. This manuscript describes a complementary approach in which Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 was fermented under a variety of conditions that differ in temperature, pH, as well as NaCl, amino acid, and O(2) levels. Samples derived from these fermentations were analyzed by full-genome transcriptomics, paralleled by the assessment of physiological characteristics, e.g., maximum growth rate, yield, and organic acid profiles. A data-storage and -mining suite designated FermDB was constructed and exploited to identify correlations between fermentation conditions and industrially relevant physiological characteristics of L. plantarum, as well as the associated transcriptome signatures. Finally, integration of the specific fermentation variables with the transcriptomes enabled the reconstruction of the gene-regulatory networks involved. The fermentation-genomics platform presented here is a valuable complementary approach to earlier described genotype-phenotype matching strategies which allows the identification of transcriptome signatures underlying physiological variations imposed by different fermentation conditions.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, Acid, Microbiology, Lactic acid, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Sauerkraut

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There are few carefully-designed studies investigating the safety of individual probiotics approved under Investigational New Drug policies.

Concepts: Gut flora, Microbiology, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillaceae, Lactobacillus reuteri, Probiotics

170

Treatment with the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to prevent dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis in rats. This is partly due to reduced P-selectin-dependent leukocyte- and platelet-endothelial cell interactions, however, the mechanism behind this protective effect is still unknown. In the present study a combination of culture dependent and molecular based T-RFLP profiling was used to investigate the influence of L. reuteri on the colonic mucosal barrier of DSS treated rats. It was first demonstrated that the two colonic mucus layers of control animals had different bacterial community composition and that fewer bacteria resided in the firmly adherent layer. During DSS induced colitis, the number of bacteria in the inner firmly adherent mucus layer increased and bacterial composition of the two layers no longer differed. In addition, induction of colitis dramatically altered the microbial composition in both firmly and loosely adherent mucus layers. Despite protecting against colitis, treatment with L. reuteri did not improve the integrity of the mucus layer or prevent distortion of the mucus microbiota caused by DSS. However, L. reuteri decreased the bacterial translocation from the intestine to mesenteric lymph nodes during DSS treatment, which might be an important part of the mechanisms by which L. reuteri ameliorates DSS induced colitis.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Digestive system, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus reuteri

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BACKGROUND: Bacterial cell surface-associated polysaccharides are involved in the interactions of bacteria with their environment and play an important role in the communication between pathogenic bacteria and their host organisms. Cell surface polysaccharides of probiotic species are far less well described. Therefore, improved knowledge on these molecules is potentially of great importance to understand the strain-specific and proposed beneficial modes of probiotic action. RESULTS: The Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 genome encodes 4 clusters of genes that are associated with surface polysaccharide production. Two of these clusters appear to encode all functions required for capsular polysaccharide formation (cps2A-J and cps4A-J), while the remaining clusters are predicted to lack genes encoding chain-length control functions and a priming glycosyl-transferase (cps1A-I and cps3A-J). We constructed L. plantarum WCFS1 gene deletion mutants that lack individual (Deltacps1A-I, Deltacps2A-J, Deltacps3A-J and Deltacps4A-J) or combinations of cps clusters (Deltacps1A-3J and Deltacps1A-3I, Deltacps4A-J) and assessed the genome wide impact of these mutations by transcriptome analysis. The cps cluster deletions influenced the expression of variable gene sets in the individual cps cluster mutants, but also considerable numbers of up- and down-regulated genes were shared between mutants in cps cluster 1 and 2, as well as between mutant in cps clusters 3 and 4. Additionally, the composition of overall cell surface polysaccharide fractions was altered in each mutant strain, implying that despite the apparent incompleteness of cps1A-I and cps3A-J, all clusters are active and functional in L. plantarum. The Deltacps1A-I strain produced surface polysaccharides in equal amounts as compared to the wild-type strain, while the polysaccharides were characterized by a reduced molar mass and the lack of rhamnose. The mutants that lacked functional copies of cps2A-J, cps3A-J or cps4A-J produced decreased levels of surface polysaccharides, whereas the molar mass and the composition of polysaccharides was not affected by these cluster mutations. In the quadruple mutant, the amount of surface polysaccharides was strongly reduced. The impact of the cps cluster mutations on toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated human nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB activation in host cells was evaluated using a TLR2 reporter cell line. In comparison to a L. plantarum wild-type derivative, TLR2 activation remained unaffected by the Deltacps1A-I and Deltacps3A-J mutants but appeared slightly increased after stimulation with the Deltacps2A-J and Deltacps4A-J mutants, while the Deltacps1A-3J and Deltacps1A-3J, Deltacps4A-J mutants elicited the strongest responses and clearly displayed enhanced TLR2 signaling. CONCLUSIONS: Our study reveals that modulation of surface glycan characteristics in L. plantarum highlights the role of these molecules in shielding of cell envelope embedded host receptor ligands. Although the apparently complete cps clusters (cps2A-J and cps4A-J) contributed individually to this shielding, the removal of all cps clusters led to the strongest signaling enhancement. Our findings provide new insights into cell surface glycan biosynthesis in L. plantarum, which bears relevance in the context of host-cell signaling by probiotic bacteria.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Bacteria, Microbiology, Cell wall, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus plantarum

163

Reducing the amount of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach by selective bacterial-bacterial cell interaction was sought as an effective and novel method for combating the stomach pathogen. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM17648 was identified as a highly specific binding antagonist to H. pylori among more than 700 wild-type strains of Lactobacillus species. Applying a stringent screening procedure, the strain DSM17648 was identified as selective binder to H. pylori cells under in vivo gastric conditions. The strain DSM17648 co-aggregates the pathogen in vivo and in vitro. The specific co-aggregation occurs between Lact. reuteri DSM17648 and different H. pylori strains and serotypes, as well as H. heilmannii, but not with Campylobacter jejuni or other commensal oral and intestinal bacteria. Lact. reuteri DSM17648 was shown in a proof-of-concept single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study to significantly reduce the load of H. pylori in healthy yet infected adults. Reducing the amount of H. pylori in the stomach by selective bacterial-bacterial cell interaction might be an effective and novel method for combating the stomach pathogen. Lact. reuteri DSM17648 might prove useful as an adhesion blocker in antibiotic-free H. pylori therapies.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Stomach, Helicobacter pylori, Proteobacteria, Peptic ulcer, Lactobacillus

161

Lactobacillus fermentum is a normal inhabitant of the human gastrointestinal tract. Here, we report the draft genome sequence of an Indian isolate of the probiotic strain L. fermentum Lf1, isolated from the human gut.

Concepts: Gut flora, Human Genome Project, Microbiology, Digestive system, Human gastrointestinal tract, Lactobacillus, Digestion, Lactobacillus fermentum

156

Worldwide there is increasing interest in the manipulation of human gut microbiota by the use of probiotic supplements to modify or prevent a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Probiotic interventions administered during pregnancy and breastfeeding offer a unique opportunity to influence a range of important maternal and infant outcomes. The aim of the Probiotics in Pregnancy Study (PiP Study) is to assess if supplementation by the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 administered to women from early pregnancy and while breastfeeding can reduce the rates of infant eczema and atopic sensitisation at 1 year, and maternal gestational diabetes mellitus, bacterial vaginosis and Group B Streptococcal vaginal colonisation before birth, and depression and anxiety postpartum.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Gut flora, Diabetes mellitus, Gestational diabetes, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus

128

Lactobacillus plantarum (L. plantarum) is a well-known probiotic among the ingested-microorganism probiotics (i.e., ingested microorganisms associated with beneficial effects for the host). However, few studies have examined the effects of L. plantarum TWK10 (LP10) supplementation on exercise performance, physical fatigue, and gut microbial profile. Male Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) strain mice were divided into three groups (n = 8 per group) for oral administration of LP10 for six weeks at 0, 2.05 × 10⁸, or 1.03 × 10⁸ colony-forming units/kg/day, designated the vehicle, LP10-1X and LP10-5X groups, respectively. LP10 significantly decreased final body weight and increased relative muscle weight (%). LP10 supplementation dose-dependently increased grip strength (p < 0.0001) and endurance swimming time (p < 0.001) and decreased levels of serum lactate (p < 0.0001), ammonia (p < 0.0001), creatine kinase (p = 0.0118), and glucose (p = 0.0151) after acute exercise challenge. The number of type I fibers (slow muscle) in gastrocnemius muscle significantly increased with LP10 treatment. In addition, serum levels of albumin, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and triacylglycerol significantly decreased with LP10 treatment. Long-term supplementation with LP10 may increase muscle mass, enhance energy harvesting, and have health-promotion, performance-improvement, and anti-fatigue effects.

Concepts: Metabolism, Microbiology, Muscle, Blood urea nitrogen, Mass, Lactic acid, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus plantarum

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