New possibilities for novel probiotic products are on the horizon after researchers report that some probiotic strains can eliminate antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the gut.
The study, published in Infection and Immunity, finds that reintroducing normal microbial diversity to the guts of mice infected with antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria can help to restore microbial balance and eliminate the pathogens.
Led by researchers from Spain and the USA, the research team explain that taking antibiotics causes a reduced diversity of the microbiota which allows antibiotic-resistant pathogens - such as vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) - "to invade and thrive in the intestine."
The new study, however, finds that repopulating the intestines of mice with bacterial species Barnesiella can help to promote the clearance of the antibiotic-restistant strains and thus restore a healthy microbial balance.
"The presence of Barnesiella in fecal samples was associated with protection against VRE, suggesting that in humans, Barnesiella may also confer protection against dense VRE colonization," explained Carles Ubeda from the Centro Superior de Investigacion en Salud Publica, Spain - who led the study.
"The findings could be very useful for development of novel probiotics," said Ubeda.
"Scientifically, this is a major finding that will help us to understand how the microbiota confer resistance against intestinal colonization by pathogens, an important question that remains incompletely answered."
Ubeda and his colleagues treated mice with antibiotics before giving the mice either faecal transplants from untreated mice, or an aerobic or anaerobic culture from the faecal transplants.
The team found that mice receiving the faecal transplant or an anaerobic culture were able to clear the VRE, while those receiving the aerobic culture failed to do so.
After this, the team compared the microbiota in each group. The big difference: the mice that had cleared the VRE contained bacteria from the anaerobic genus Barnesiella, while those that had failed to clear the VRE did not.
The team suggested that their findings may present an opportunity for the development of novel probiotic cultures that contain the Barnesiella genus.
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Source: Infection and Immunity
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1128/IAI.01197-12
"Intestinal Microbiota Containing BarnesiellaSpecies Cures Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium Colonization"
Authors: Carles Ubeda, Vanni Bucci, Silvia Caballero, Ana Djukovic, et al