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Phenyl-Lactic Acid Is an Active Ingredient in Bactericidal Supernatants of Lactobacillus crispatus

  • 2021-09-08
  • Journal of Bacteriology 203(19)
    • O. Abdul-Rahim
    • Qihao Wu
    • T. Price
    • G. Pistone
    • Katherine Diebel
    • T. Bugni
    • A. Wolfe


Lactobacillus crispatus is a well-established probiotic with antimicrobial activity against pathogens across several niches of the human body generally attributed to the production of bacteriostatic molecules, including hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid. Here, we show that the cell-free supernatants of clinical isolates of L. crispatus harbor robust bactericidal activity. We further identify phenyl-lactic acid as a bactericidal compound with properties and a susceptibility range nearly identical to that of the cell-free supernatant. As such, we hypothesize that phenyl-lactic acid is a key active ingredient in L. crispatus supernatant. IMPORTANCE Although Lactobacillus crispatus is an established commensal microbe frequently used in probiotics, its protective role in the bladder microbiome has not been clarified. We report here that some urinary isolates of L. crispatus exhibit bactericidal activity, primarily due to its ability to excrete phenyl-lactic acid into its environment. Both cell-free supernatants of L. crispatus isolates and phenyl-lactic acid exhibit bactericidal activity against a wide range of pathogens, including several that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Keywords: Lactobacillus; crispatus; microbiome; phenyl-lactic acid; probiotics.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus crispatusIncreased Antibacterial Activity Against Pathogenic StrainsBeneficial
Lactobacillus crispatusProtected Bladder MicrobiomeBeneficial
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