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An in vitro study of the probiotic potential of a bile-salt-hydrolyzing Lactobacillus fermentum strain, and determination of its cholesterol-lowering properties

Pereira, D.I.A., McCartney, A.L., Gibson, G.R.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2003 v.69 no.8 pp. 4743-4752
Lactobacillus fermentum, probiotics, lactic acid bacteria, in vitro studies, cell culture, Bifidobacterium, population density, intestinal microorganisms, fermentation, short chain fatty acids, lactic acid, prebiotics, galactooligosaccharides, bile salts, hydrolysis, cholesterol metabolism, cholesteremic effect
This study evaluated the use of a bile-salt-hydrolyzing Lactobacillus fermentum strain as a probiotic with potential hypocholesterolemic properties. The effect of L. fermentum on representative microbial populations and overall metabolic activity of the human intestinal microbiota was investigated using a three-stage continuous culture system. Also, the use of galactooligosaccharides as a prebiotic to enhance growth and/or activity of the Lactobacillus strain was evaluated. Administration of L. fermentum resulted in a decrease in the overall bifidobacterial population (ca. 1 log unit). In the in vitro system, no significant changes were observed in the total bacterial, Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, and clostridial populations through L. fermentum supplementation. Acetate production decreased by 9 to 27%, while the propionate and butyrate concentrations increased considerably (50 to 90% and 52 to 157%, respectively). A general, although lesser, increase in the production of lactate was observed with the administration of the L. fermentum strain. Supplementation of the prebiotic to the culture medium did not cause statistically significant changes in either the numbers or the activity of the microbiota, although an increase in the butyrate production was seen (29 to 39%). Results from this in vitro study suggest that L. fermentum KC5b is a candidate probiotic which may affect cholesterol metabolism. The short-chain fatty acid concentrations, specifically the molar proportion of propionate and/or bile salt deconjugation, are probably the major mechanism involved in the purported cholesterol-lowering properties of this strain.