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Newly Discovered Mechanism of Action for Probiotics

A new research study on the popular probiotic strain called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG shows that probiotic bacteria may work by a mechanism not previously known. While evidence of the benefits of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) for intestinal problems , respiratory infections and eczema have previously been identified by scientists, the key mechanism underlying this effect has been unclear.

In this new study, 12 male and female patients aged between 65 and 80 years were recruited to participate in the study. They took a LGG probiotic supplement twice a day for 28 days, and the researchers took faecal samples before probiotic consumption, on day 28, and one month after stopping.

Using metagenomics analysis they then took a series of measurements of the resident microbes to evaluate the changes on the structure and function of the resident microbiota--nearly 300,000 sequence readings from bacterial rRNA genes.

According to the study ”LGG may promote interactions between key constituents of the microbiota and the host [tissue].

“These results provide evidence for the discrete functional effects imparted by a specific single-organism probiotic and challenge the prevailing notion that probiotics substantially modify the resident microbiota within nondiseased individuals in an appreciable fashion.”

The researchers found increased expression of Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus--showing that ingesting just a single-strain probiotic can indeed bring about significant shifts in the gut's microbiome. In a sense, this newly discovered mechanism shows certain bacteria may act as a "facilitator" that modifies and promotes the activity of other gut bacteria (and may or may not exert its health benefits directly to the host).

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Source: Functional Dynamics of the Gut Microbiome in Elderly People during Probiotic Consumption

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