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Carbohydrate Metabolism Is Essential for the Colonization of Streptococcus thermophilus in the Digestive Tract of Gnotobiotic Rats

  • 2011-12-22
  • PLoS ONE 6(12)
    • Muriel Thomas
    • Laura Wrzosek
    • L. Ben-Yahia
    • Marie‐Louise Noordine
    • C. Gitton
    • D. Chevret
    • P. Langella
    • C. Mayeur
    • C. Cherbuy
    • F. Rul


Streptococcus thermophilus is the archetype of lactose-adapted bacterium and so far, its sugar metabolism has been mainly investigated in vitro. The objective of this work was to study the impact of lactose and lactose permease on S. thermophilus physiology in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of gnotobiotic rats. We used rats mono-associated with LMD-9 strain and receiving 4.5% lactose. This model allowed the analysis of colonization curves of LMD-9, its metabolic profile, its production of lactate and its interaction with the colon epithelium. Lactose induced a rapid and high level of S. thermophilus in the GIT, where its activity led to 49 mM of intra-luminal L-lactate that was related to the induction of mono-carboxylic transporter mRNAs (SLC16A1 and SLC5A8) and p27(Kip1) cell cycle arrest protein in epithelial cells. In the presence of a continuous lactose supply, S. thermophilus recruited proteins involved in glycolysis and induced the metabolism of alternative sugars as sucrose, galactose, and glycogen. Moreover, inactivation of the lactose transporter, LacS, delayed S. thermophilus colonization. Our results show i/that lactose constitutes a limiting factor for colonization of S. thermophilus, ii/that activation of enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism constitutes the metabolic signature of S. thermophilus in the GIT, iii/that the production of lactate settles the dialogue with colon epithelium. We propose a metabolic model of management of carbohydrate resources by S. thermophilus in the GIT. Our results are in accord with the rationale that nutritional allegation via consumption of yogurt alleviates the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Streptococcus thermophilusEnhanced Digestive Tract ColonizationBeneficial
Streptococcus thermophilusImproved Lactose DigestionBeneficial
Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4Improved Carbohydrate MetabolismBeneficial
Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4Increased Colonization of S. thermophilusBeneficial
Streptococcus thermophilus TH-4Increased Lactate ProductionBeneficial
Streptococcus thermophilus UASt-09Improved Lactose DigestionBeneficial

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