Scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine say they have developed a probiotic “cocktail” derived from gut bacteria strains found in infant feces that may help increase the body’s ability to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
“Short-chain fatty acids are a key component of good gut health,” says lead investigator Hariom Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “People with diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders and cancers frequently have fewer short-chain fatty acids. Increasing them may be helpful in maintaining or even restoring a normal gut environment, and hopefully, improving health.”
Over the past decade, research has shown that specific probiotic strains can effectively prevent or treat certain diseases in both animal models 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.
The School of Medicine team designed this study to examine the effects of probiotic strains derived from healthy human fecal samples and to determine how they worked.
Researchers collected fecal samples from the diapers of 34 healthy infants. After following a robust protocol of isolation, characterization and safety validation of infant gut-origin Lactobacillus and Enterococcus strains with probiotic attributes, the researchers selected the 10 best out of the 321 analyzed.
To test the ability of these human-origin probiotics to change the gut microbiome – bacteria that live inside the digestive track – and their capacity to produce SCFAs, mice were given a single dose, as well as five consecutive doses of this 10-strain probiotic cocktail. Then the researchers injected the same probiotic mixture in the same doses into a human feces medium.
The scientists found 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 feces.
The authors say the study was limited in that it didn’t test the probiotic mixture in any disease models.
The study appears in the August 23 online edition of Scientific Reports, a Nature publication.