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Antagonistic effects of Streptococcus and Lactobacillus probiotics in pharyngeal biofilms

Humphreys, G.J., McBain, A.J.
Letters in applied microbiology 2019 v.68 no.4 pp. 303-312
DNA fingerprinting, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactococcus plantarum, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus salivarius, acidification, acids, antagonism, bacteria, biofilm, fermentation, models, pathogens, pharyngitis, pharynx, plate count, probiotics, throat, viability
Direct antagonism towards pathogens including Streptococcus pyogenes is a proposed mechanism of pharyngeal probiosis but off‐target effects on the symbiotic microbiota of the throat are possible and may be beneficial, harmful or neutral. We have assessed the bacteriological effects of two candidate Lactobacillus probiotics and the established pharyngeal probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12. Antagonism towards S. pyogenes and potential off‐target effects were determined using sessile monospecies biofilms and pharyngeal microcosms, respectively. The candidate probiotics were antagonistic towards S. pyogenes (rank order of increasing potency, Lactobacillus acidophilus < Lactobacillus plantarum < Streptococcus salivarius) in the absence of significant acidification or cell–cell contact. Streptococcus salivarius and L. plantarum caused significant reductions in viable counts of streptococci in pharyngeal microbiotas, whilst S. salivarius also caused reductions in staphylococci. In contrast, changes in pharyngeal eubacterial DNA profiles were limited overall. In summary, the three candidate probiotics suppressed axenic Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms by mechanisms that did not depend on cell–cell contact or acidification and did not markedly destabilize complex pharyngeal microbiotas derived from healthy individuals. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Candidate probiotic bacteria deployed to prevent or treat bacterial pharyngitis will interact with the target bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenes as well as with the microbiota of the throat, where off‐target effects are possible. Three candidate probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Streptococcus salivarius reduced viability within extant S. pyogenes biofilms through the elaboration of diffusible factors other than fermentation acids but did not markedly disrupt ex situ pharyngeal microcosms. This work demonstrates the application of in vitro pharyngeal models in the preclinical testing of the safety and efficacy of candidate pharyngeal probiotics.