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Baby’s faeces may be good source of probiotic strains

Pank Jit Sin
13 Sep 2018

While it may seem like a bad place to look for good bacteria, infant faeces may just be the perfect place to find good probiotic bacteria.

Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, North Carolina, US, recently developed a probiotic cocktail derived from bacterial strains found in infant faeces. These bacteria are thought to increase the body’s ability to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are chains of fatty acids with between two and six carbon atoms. [Available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-30114-4]

According to lead investigator Hariom Yadav, Ph.D, SCFAs are a key component of good gut health. Yadav, who is assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said: “People with diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders and cancers frequently have fewer SCFAs. Increasing them may be helpful in maintaining or even restoring a normal gut environment, and hopefully, improving health.”

More and more evidence points to the potential use of specific probiotic strains to treat or prevent certain diseases in both animals and humans. These reports have led to an extensive demand for probiotic supplements over the last decade, thereby prompting a massive increase in the development of new probiotic products for the consumer market.

However, Yadav notes that those studies were mostly done on subjects with underlying diseases or conditions. Scientific evidence on the effects of probiotics in healthy, disease-free subjects have remained relatively limited and inconsistent.

In the research which was published in the 23 August online edition of Scientific Reports (a Nature publication), the research team designed the study to examine the effects of probiotic strains derived from healthy human fecal samples and to determine how they worked.

They turned to infants as “babies are usually pretty healthy and clearly do not suffer from age-related diseases, such as diabetes and cancer … and, of course, their poop is readily available.”

Yadav’s team collected fecal samples from the diapers of 34 healthy infants. The samples were then passed through a robust protocol of isolation, characterization and safety validation of infant gut-origin Lactobacillus and Enterococcus strains with probiotic attributes. From a total of 321 strains analyzed, they picked the best 10 and submitted these strains to testing in a mouse model.

The researchers gave a single dose and five consecutive doses of the 10-strain cocktail to mice and then applied the same two dosing regimens on a human faeces medium. It was observed that the single- and five-dose feeding of these selected probiotics modulated the gut microbiome and enhanced the production of SCFAs in mouse gut and human faeces medium.

“This work provides evidence that these human-origin probiotics could be exploited as biotherapeutic regimens for human diseases associated with gut microbiome imbalance and decreased SCFA production in the gut,” Yadav said. “Our data should be useful for future studies aimed at investigating the influence of probiotics on human microbiome, metabolism and associated diseases.”

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Most Read Articles
Vincent YT Cheung, 01 Dec 2015

Ultrasonography has been widely used as a routine component of antenatal care. During the assessment of the foetus and the placenta, an adnexal mass may be discovered at the time of the ultrasound examination. Occasionally, an adnexal mass can also be suspected either on physical examination or as a result of clinical symptoms.
5 days ago
Infants born through caesarean delivery appear to be at higher risk of food allergies, while those born very preterm have lower risks, a recent study has found.
04 Nov 2018
Home-based behavioural therapy, administered by parents with over-the-phone assistance with a therapist, effectively reduces complex motor stereotypies in children, a new study has found.
Jairia Dela Cruz, 15 Oct 2018
Infants treated with phototherapy are at increased risk of developing seizures in childhood, with the risk more pronounced in boys and independent of bilirubin levels, a study has found.