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Probiotic potential spore-forming bacteria.

The advertisement and promotion of dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts has increased dramatically during the past 5 years: yet, disputes remain within the scientific community about the true benefits of ingesting probiotic bacteria. In fact, evidence has shown that probiotics can assist with intestinal and digestive health and immune function. But. by contrast, other experiments have shown that up to 99% of the bacteria are killed by the acid in the stomach before reaching the intestine: thus the effect of ingestion is limited.

Investigations are now being undertaken into the probiotic potential of spore-forming bacteria. Spores are more resilient than live bacteria, withstanding a variety of pH conditions and temperatures. For example, if ingested, these bacteria can survive in the stomach within their protective capsule and germinate only after entering the intestine. Targeting germination to the intestine maximizes the probiotic effect and, hence, the benefit to the host. A further advantage is that these bacteria are heat stable in the form of spores, which eliminates the need for many probiotic products to be refrigerated--and also increases the number of products to which probiotic bacteria can be added.

As there is some evidence to suggest that probiotic bacteria can assist the body's naturally occurring gut ora to re-establish itself, especially after a course of antibiotics, or as part of the treatment for gut-related candidiasis, the use of probiotic bacteria can sometimes be recommended by doctors and nutritionists. In this context, the heat stability and survival of the spores in transit through the stomach allows each dose to be regulated and guaranteed. Probiotics are sold in Britain as food rather than drugs. Regulations on nutrition and health foods made on foods have recently been improved and harmonized within the European Union by the implementation of Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council. This new regulation covers probiotic bacteria and requires any health claims on labels or packaging to be proven. This ensures that consumers can now be more confident that marketing claims for probiotics are based on established scientific fact.

Although there are many probiotic products currently on the market, only a few contain spore-forming bacteria. It is envisaged that the next generation of probiotic products will contain spore-forming bacteria, which have the benefit of being heat stable and can therefore be added to any food/drink without being degraded. These bacteria need to be compatible with the human gastrointestinal tract and known to be safe for human consumption. Several research teams are currently doing research into spore-forming bacteria. In the Department of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, we are identifying, characterizing and undertaking safety and toxicity tests on known species and newly identified species. Our research has focused on spore-producing Bacillus species. Strains of Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus indicus have been shown to have probiotic, antioxidant and colourant potential (Tam, et al., J. Bacteriol. 188, 2692-2700 [2006]; Hong, et al., J. Appl. Microbiol. [2008], in press). For example, strains of Bacillus subtilis have been shown to have intestinal/ digestive health, immune function and heart health benefits (Tam, et al., J. Bacteriol. 188, 2692-2700 [2006]; Omura, et al., J. Pharmacol. Sci. 99, 247-251 [2005]; Pais, et al., Clin. Hemorheol. Microcirc. 35,139-142 [2006]; Peng, et al., Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 69, 126-132 [2005]; Tai and Sweet, Am. J. Health-Syst. Pharm. 63, 1121-1123 [2006]) and are already being used in food supplement form in the EU. Bacillus indicus has been shown to have probiotic human health benefits and has the advantage of producing a range of natural orange and yellow pigments, known as carotenoids (Duc, et al., FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 255, 215-224 [2006]). Strains of Bacillus indicus have been patented (publication number W02007066108). Carotenoids play an important role in nutrition (vitamin A), vision (retinal) and development (retinoic acid) and therefore this strain may provide a valuable source for boosting levels of this essential dietary component. The availability of probiotic spore-forming bacteria with demonstrated beneficial effects to the consumer is likely to result in an increase in the number of probiotic products on the market in the very near future.


For more information

Simon Cutting, Paul Fraser and Katherine Payne

Royal Holloway, University of London

Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, UK.

Tel. +441784 443 760
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Title Annotation:guest editorial
Author:Cutting, Simon; Fraser, Paul; Payne, Katharine
Publication:Nutraceutical Business & Technology
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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