Propionibacterium freudenreichii P.UF1 was first isolated from the feces of human breast milk-fed preterm infants by immunologist Dr Mansour Mohamadzadeh at the University of Florida. It is now being commercialized by Florida-based biotech start-up SCHISM Bioworks.
Dr Ralf Jäger from Wisconsin-based Increnovo is a scientific advisor to SCHISM. “This strain is the key to breast milk’s immune promoting health benefits in infants,” Dr Jäger told NutraIngredients-USA. “I was intrigued by it and wanted to be involved.”
The strain is supported by five pre-clinical studies, Dr Jäger told us, which have shown that the strain may protect against tissue damage in the colon by mitigating pathogen-induced inflammation. Additionally, data also showed that P. UF1 may regulate immune T cells, particularly Th17 and Th1 cells, against systemic Listeria monocytogenes infection.
A subsequent study by the same researchers found that the strain may reduce loss in body weight and diarrhea in mice with chemically-induced colitis.
The strain has also been shown to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria with bifidogenic properties, while it is known to generate bacteriocins (peptides with antimicrobial activity). From a postbiotic (metabolite) perspective, the strain has been reported to produce significant quantities of Vitamins B12, B2, B5, C, K, Biotin, Folic Acid, the short-chain fatty acids propionate and acetate, and the amino acids Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, and Tryptophan.
The wider propionibacteria genus is also known to produce lipases (enzymes that breakdown fats) more than other lactic acid bacteria, according to a presentation by the company.
The first commercial product formulated with P. UF1 was recently released by Gundry MD and called GI Advantage, positioned for “smooth comfortable digestion”.
The B12 angle
An intriguing aspect of P.UF1 is its ability to produce vitamin B12. Propionibacterium is well known to produce this vitamin and is already used in large-scale industrial microbial fermentation production of vitamin B12 (Fang, et al. 2017, Microbial Cell Factories).
According to SCHISM Bioworks, Propionibacterium freudenreichii P.UF1 produces significantly greater amounts of vitamin B12 compared to known cobamide-producing probiotics, such as Lactobacillus reuteri DSM-20016 (+543%) and Lactobacillus rossiae DSM-15814 (+132%).
“… Vitamin B12 can be used by more than 80% of gut microbiota, suggesting that this vitamin can be used to support the healthy ecology of the gut microbiota involved in the intestinal homeostasis of the host,” wrote Dr Mohamadzadeh and his co-workers in a paper in a December 2019 issue of PNAS.
“It is conceivable that this bacterium synthesizing Vitamin B12 may critically contribute to the observed immune homeostasis in the host,” they added.
The strain P.UF1 has self-affirmed GRAS status pending. An NPN application for the strain is also pending in Canada.
“A greater diversity of the gut microbiota is directly correlated with overall health and well-being,” said Dr Jäger, “however, commercial multi-strain probiotics lack microbial diversity, lack the presence of propionibacteria, with more than 80% containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, according to Lumina Intelligence. P.UF1 is one of the most exciting discoveries in the field of probiotics, offering a truly unique range of benefits.”