Live probiotics can re-balance the gut microbiome and modify immune system response

Good bacteria in live probiotics can successfully reach and colonize the gut, where they go on to change the existing gut flora, and are also capable of modifying immune response, according to new research published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

Researchers found that all bacteria in a live probiotic produced by the supplement brand Symprove survived the stomach acid to reach and colonize the gut. The activity of the bacteria in this study were observed using a novel Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME) and used donor bacteria from healthy humans. This allowed researchers to closely monitor bacteria through in-vitro simulation of the human gut, without the need for invasive procedures and measurements.

The bacteria were tested to see if their colonization would help feed the gut microbiome through the production of lactate. The microbiome has been identified as a disease modifier and an essential part of immunity.

Simon Gaisford, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics at the University College London says they have been able to show that delivering viable and active bacteria to the gut impacts the healthy bacteria in our bodies in a way that researchers have not seen before.

“The diversity of the donor microbiotas clearly changed for the better and importantly the effect was sustained week-on-week,” said Gaisford. “We saw that the addition of [live probiotics] reduced inflammatory markers and raised butyrate levels. If we can make a healthy microbiome healthier, the potential to improve conditions of dysbiosis is incredibly exciting."

The addition of the live probiotics to the microbiotas of healthy human donors changed the proportion of bacterial groups in the gut flora, which generated a significant increase in butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) which is critical to health and wellbeing.

The live probiotics also increased the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-10, while reducing the inflammatory chemokines IL-8, MCP-1 and CXCL10, which are associated with inflammatory conditions and viral infections. The data showed that feeding the microbiome results in changes to the gut flora as well as a positive anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory effect.

An increased abundance in beneficial bacteria, such as firmicutes and actinobacteria, were also observed after adding live bacteria into the simulation containers. A lack of these bacteria in the gut is associated with several health conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome.