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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

170

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

169

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

168

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

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

124

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The consumption of probiotics has become increasingly popular as a means to try to improve health and well-being. Not only are probiotics considered beneficial to digestive health, but increasing evidence suggests direct and indirect interactions between gut microbiota (GM) and the central nervous system (CNS). Here, adult zebrafish were supplemented with Lactobacillus plantarum to determine the effects of probiotic treatment on structural and functional changes of the GM, as well as host neurological and behavioral changes. L. plantarum administration altered the β-diversity of the GM while leaving the major core architecture intact. These minor structural changes were accompanied by significant enrichment of several predicted metabolic pathways. In addition to GM modifications, L. plantarum treatment also significantly reduced anxiety-related behavior and altered GABAergic and serotonergic signaling in the brain. Lastly, L. plantarum supplementation provided protection against stress-induced dysbiosis of the GM. These results underscore the influence commensal microbes have on physiological function in the host, and demonstrate bidirectional communication between the GM and the host.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus plantarum

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Psychobiotics were previously defined as live bacteria (probiotics) which, when ingested, confer mental health benefits through interactions with commensal gut bacteria. We expand this definition to encompass prebiotics, which enhance the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. We review probiotic and prebiotic effects on emotional, cognitive, systemic, and neural variables relevant to health and disease. We discuss gut-brain signalling mechanisms enabling psychobiotic effects, such as metabolite production. Overall, knowledge of how the microbiome responds to exogenous influence remains limited. We tabulate several important research questions and issues, exploration of which will generate both mechanistic insights and facilitate future psychobiotic development. We suggest the definition of psychobiotics be expanded beyond probiotics and prebiotics to include other means of influencing the microbiome.

Concepts: Psychology, Gut flora, Digestive system, Escherichia coli, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Bacteriology, Prebiotic

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Background: Rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life is often reduced during seasonal allergies. The Mini Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire (MRQLQ) is a validated tool used to measure quality of life in people experiencing allergies (0 = not troubled to 6 = extremely troubled). Probiotics may improve quality of life during allergy season by increasing the percentage of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and inducing tolerance.Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether consuming Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and B. longum MM-2 compared with placebo would result in beneficial effects on MRQLQ scores throughout allergy season in individuals who typically experience seasonal allergies. Secondary outcomes included changes in immune markers as part of a potential mechanism for changes in MRQLQ scores.Design: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel, randomized clinical trial, 173 participants (mean ± SEM: age 27 ± 1 y) who self-identified as having seasonal allergies received either a probiotic (2 capsules/d, 1.5 billion colony-forming units/capsule) or placebo during spring allergy season for 8 wk. MRQLQ scores were collected weekly throughout the study. Fasting blood samples were taken from a subgroup (placebo, n = 37; probiotic, n = 35) at baseline and week 6 (predicted peak of pollen) to determine serum immunoglobulin (Ig) E concentrations and Treg percentages.Results: The probiotic group reported an improvement in the MRQLQ global score from baseline to pollen peak (-0.68 ± 0.13) when compared with the placebo group (-0.19 ± 0.14; P = 0.0092). Both serum total IgE and the percentage of Tregs increased from baseline to week 6, but changes were not different between groups.Conclusions: This combination probiotic improved rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life during allergy season for healthy individuals with self-reported seasonal allergies; however, the associated mechanism is still unclear. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02349711.

Concepts: Immune system, Clinical trial, Gut flora, Asthma, Allergy, Clinical research, Placebo, Lactobacillus