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The effect of pectins on survival of probiotic Lactobacillus spp. in gastrointestinal juices is related to their structure and physical properties

Larsen, Nadja, Cahú, Thiago Barbosa, Isay Saad, Susana Marta, Blennow, Andreas, Jespersen, Lene
Food microbiology 2018 v.74 pp. 11-20
Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus reuteri, bacteria, electrostatic interactions, flow cytometry, food industry, gastric juice, gelation, hydrodynamics, molecular weight, pectins, probiotics, survival rate, viability, viscosity, zeta potential
Pectins are plant polysaccharides used in food industry as gelling and stabilizing agents. This study investigated the ability of pectins to improve survival of probiotic species Lactobacillus fermentum PCC, L. reuteri RC-14, L. rhamnosus LGG and L. paracasei F-19 in simulated gastric solution in relationship to their structural and physical properties. Electrostatic interactions between pectins and bacteria were evaluated by the Zeta-potential approach. Bacterial survival was assessed by flow cytometry and plate counting. L. fermentum PCC and L. reuteri RC-14 were more resistant to gastric conditions; their survival rate was further improved in the presence of five out of ten tested pectins. Additionally, two of the pectins had a positive effect on viability of the less resistant L. rhamnosus LGG and L. paracasei F-19. The beneficial effect was generally observed for the high-methoxylated pectins, indicating that substituted polygalacturonic acid in the backbone is essential for bacterial protection. Other pectin features associated with improved survival, included less negative Zeta-potential, higher molecular weight, as well as lower values of hydrodynamic sizes, viscosity and degree of branching. The study indicates that pectins have a potential to protect probiotic bacteria through the gastro-intestinal transit and identifies the features linked to their functionality.