How probiotics can prevent disease

Apr 02, 2009

Using probiotics successfully against a number of animal diseases has helped scientists from University College Cork, Ireland to understand some of the ways in which they work, which could lead to them using probiotics to prevent and even to treat human diseases.

Presenting the work at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate today (Thursday 2 April), Dr Colin Hill described how his team had used three animal models of disease that have human counterparts - bovine mastitis, porcine salmonellosis (a gastrointestinal disease) and listeriosis in mice (an often fatal form of food poisoning) - to demonstrate the protective effects of probiotics.

"Rather than use commercially available probiotics, we made our own probiotic preparations containing safe such as Lactobacillus species newly isolated from human volunteers" said Dr Hill, "In all three animal diseases we observed a positive effect in that the animals were significantly protected against infection".

The team also used probiotics to control disease in animals that were already infected. The results of these tests proved that administering these safe bacteria to an infected animal was as effective as the best available antibiotic therapies in eliminating the infectious agent and resolving the symptoms.

In each instance the protection was linked to a particular , and the mechanism of action varied from direct antagonism (where the probiotic directly kills the ) to effects mediated by the host immune system. For example Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 protected mice against listeriosis (a disease which can affect pregnant women) by producing an antimicrobial peptide that eliminates Listeria monocytogenes in the gut of the animal. In another mechanism, Lactococcus lactis could be used to treat mastitis by eliciting an immune response that overwhelmed the infectious bacterium.

Dr Hill added, "It is likely that using probiotics rather than antibiotics will appeal to at-risk individuals since they are safe, non-invasive, do not create resistant bacteria and can even be administered in the form of tasty foods or beverages".

"We have shown that we can protect and even treat animals against pathogenic bacteria by introducing harmless bacteria at the site of the infection," said Dr Hill. "In order to use similar strategies in preventing or treating we must understand the molecular basis of their efficacy. This understanding will provide the basis for intelligent screening and selection of the most appropriate protective bacterial cultures to go forward into human trials".

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What else may probiotics do in adults?

May 20, 2008

Probiotic bacteria, defined as living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on human health, have mostly been studied in the prevention and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies. Probiotic products, ...

Study finds healthy intestinal bacteria within chicken eggs

Jun 02, 2008

The conventional wisdom among scientists has long been that birds acquire the intestinal bacteria that are a necessary for good health from their environment, but a new University of Georgia study finds that chickens are ...

Mimic molecules to protect against plague

Jul 04, 2008

Bacteria that cause pneumonic plague can evade our first-line defences, making it difficult for the body to fight infection. In fact, a signature of the plague is the lack of an inflammatory response. Now, scientists have ...

Study recommends diet with good bacteria

Aug 08, 2006

A British study says those over 60 should boost their daily intake of probiotics, or diet with "good bacteria," to prevent intestinal infections.

Recommended for you

New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

11 hours ago

Bacteria are particularly ingenious when it comes to survival strategies. They often create a biofilm to protect themselves from a hostile environment, for example during treatment with antibiotics. A biofilm is a bacterial ...

Team makes scientific history with new cellular connection

Sep 11, 2014

Researchers led by Dr. Helen McNeill at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute have revealed an exciting and unusual biochemical connection. Their discovery has implications for diseases linked to mitochondria, ...

Researchers discover new producer of crucial vitamin

Sep 11, 2014

(Phys.org) —New research has determined that a single group of micro-organisms may be responsible for much of the world's vitamin B12 production in the oceans, with implications for the global carbon cycle and climate change.

How bacteria battle fluoride

Sep 11, 2014

He's not a dentist, but Christopher Miller is focused on fluoride. Two studies from his Brandeis University lab provide new insights into the mechanisms that allow bacteria to resist fluoride toxicity, information ...

User comments : 0