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Probiotic-host interaction can be cell-to-cell or through metabolite production. Dead (inactive) organisms could interact with the host, leading to local effects and possible health benefits. This research examined the effects of live and heat-inactivated Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12 (BB-12) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) on cultured Caco-2 cells focusing on epithelial integrity and production of inflammatory mediators. Live organisms increased transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), a barrier-integrity marker, with LGG having a greater effect than BB-12. When mildly heat-treated, both organisms had a more modest effect on TEER than when alive. When they were heat-inactivated, both organisms had only a limited effect on TEER. Neither live nor heat-inactivated organisms affected production of six inflammatory mediators produced by Caco-2 cells compared to control conditions. Pre-treatment with heat-inactivated LGG or BB-12 did not alter the decline in TEER caused by exposure to an inflammatory cocktail of cytokines. However, pre-treatment of Caco-2 cells with heat-inactivated organisms alone or their combination decreased the production of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-18, and vascular endothelial growth factor. To conclude, while the live organisms improve the epithelial barrier using this model, neither live nor heat-inactivated organisms directly elicit an inflammatory response by the epithelium. Pre-treatment with heat-inactivated BB-12 or LGG can reduce some components of the response induced by an inflammatory stimulus.

Keywords: B. animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12; L. rhamnosus GG; gut epithelium; heat-inactivation; inflammation; probiotic.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Improved Epithelial Barrier IntegrityBeneficial
Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Reduced Inflammatory Response to Inflammatory StimulusBeneficial
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