In-depth analyses of current probiotic issues and topics related to probiotics aiming to advance probiotic knowledge at large

Background

Probiotic bacteria may be defined as ‘live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’ (C. Hill et al. 2014). Consumers, the scientific community, regulators and the food industry show a sustained interest in these microorganisms and related functional effects.

Objectives

The objectives of this task force encompass a better comprehension of probiotic benefits and underlying mechanisms, as well as providing scientific guidelines for the substantiation of health claims.

Impact

The task force has enhanced the understanding of the interaction between the gut, the intestinal microbiota and probiotics, also called ‘crosstalk’ between humans and microbes. Additionally, it contributes to the scientific understanding and substantiation of health claims regulations. For a summary of evidence on the functionality of probiotics, look for the five supplements in Journal of Nutrition collectively entitled ‘Guidance for Assessing the Probiotics Beneficial Effects: How to Fill the Gap’ (J. Neu 2010), which has up to 150 citations.

The task force collaborates with other ILSI Europe task forces to combine expertise on the potential effects of probiotics on relevant areas such as digestion, absorption, immunity, brain / neuronal function, or appetite regulation. This gives a more well-rounded approach. For instance, the Probiotics Task Force contributed to the latest publication of the Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation Task Force (R. Albers et al., 2013) which had several thousands of full text views. It describes how to select immune markers for future trials and provides a framework for the interpretation of outcomes.

The collaboration with the Prebiotics Task Force led to a joint Concise Monograph (N. Binns 2013) that summarises the science and principles valid for prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics today. This successful publication (with more than 4,000 downloads from our website) has just been translated into Portuguese and Japanese. It will soon be available in French.

What’s New

  • A new activity on ‘Mechanisms of Probiotic Action’ focuses on the current knowledge of mechanisms of probiotics action in relation to demonstrated health benefits.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Tobias Recker at trecker@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members

Dr Gabriele Gross – Chair Mead Johnson Nutrition NL
Dr Arthur Ouwehand – Vice-Chair DuPont Nutrition and Health FI
Prof. Michiel Kleerebezem – Co-Chair University of Wageningen NL
Dr Gabriela Bergonzelli Nestlé CH
Dr Sylvie Binda Danone FR
Dr Stephanie Courau Merck Consumer Healthcare FR
Dr Giorgio LaFata DSM CH
Dr Simon Metz Pedersen Arla Foods DK
Dr Johan van Hylckama Vlieg Chr. Hansen DK
Mr Takeshi Yoshimoto Yakult Europe NL
Dr Tobias Recker ILSI Europe BE

*Observer

Expert Groups

Mechanisms of Probiotic Action

Objectives

Despite a lack of approved health claims for probiotics in human nutrition, there is general consensus in the probiotic scientific community that specific strains exert documented functional effects and that some health benefits can even be considered a general probiotic trait. An increasing number of meta-analyses point in the direction that probiotics may reduce health risks (e.g. for respiratory tract infections, antibiotic associated diarrhoea and atopic eczema).

This expert group was set up to investigate what is currently known about the mechanisms of probiotics action (direct and indirect) in relation to demonstrated (clinical) benefits, to identify gaps in the current knowledge and provide suggestions for the future.

Activity

Experts are evaluating the latest data on probiotic mechanisms relevant for specific health benefits. Particular areas of interest include specificity of effects, physiological sites of action and learnings for future probiotic selection, studies and application.

Expected Output

The project is reviewing the current state-of-the-art understanding of mechanisms of probiotic action to discuss related concepts and to comment on future developments and research gaps. The output will be a peer-reviewed publication in a high impact journal.

Probiotics: Interplay with the Intestinal Barrier Function

Objectives

Intestinal barrier function and microbiota composition and activity can be affected, for example, by acute infections, antibiotic use, stress or other dietary factors. However, supplementation with appropriate probiotic strains could help to restore the intestinal barrier function. An expert group has worked to determine the state-of-the-art research in intestinal barrier function and its role in health and disease and to investigate the potential impact of probiotics (direct and indirect) on intestinal barrier function.

Activity

The expert group divided the activity into three, addressing each topic in a separate manuscript. They fit together to form a whole picture:
•    Gut barrier defence and related biomarkers;
•    Deficiencies in gut barrier defence and links to disease;
•    Probiotics and prebiotics as interventions to enhance gut barrier function.

Output

The group assessed the current evidence of probiotic-induced intestinal barrier enhancement and subsequent protective effects. The goal was to crystallise existing consensus, if any, in treatment modalities, to harmonise the validation of markers, and to pinpoint most relevant areas for future research.  All three manuscripts have been submitted.

Expert Group Members

Mechanisms of Probiotic Action

Prof. Michiel Kleerebezem – Chair University of Wageningen NL
Dr Johan van Hylckama Vlieg – Vice-Chair Chr. Hansen DK
Dr Gabriela Bergonzelli Nestlé CH
Dr Sylvie Binda Danone FR
Dr Peter Bron NIZO Food Research NL
Dr Gabriele Gross Mead Johnson Nutrition NL
Prof. Colin Hill University College Cork IE
Dr Sarah Lebeer University of Antwerp BE
Dr Arthur Ouwehand DuPont Nutrition and Health FI
Dr Reetta Satokari University of Helsinki FI
Dr Tobias Recker ILSI Europe BE

Probiotics: Interplay with the Intestinal Barrier Function

Prof. Jerry Wells – Chair University of Wageningen NL
Dr Annick Mercenier – Vice-Chair Nestlé CH
Dr Peter Bron NIZO Food Research NL
Prof. Robert Brummer University of Örebro SE
Prof. Patrice Cani Université Catholique de Louvain BE
Dr Jan Dekker University of Wageningen NL
Dr Muriel Derrien Danone FR
Prof. Willem de Vos University of Wageningen NL
Dr Clara Garcia Nestlé CH
Prof. Michiel Kleerebezem University of Wageningen NL
Dr Julia König University of Örebro SE
Prof. Thomas MacDonald Centre for Immunology and Infections Disease UK
Dr Arjen Nauta FrieslandCampina NL
Dr Vassilia Theodorou Institue National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) FR
Dr Freddy Troost University of Maastricht NL
Dr Tobias Recker ILSI Europe BE

Posters

Monitoring Immune Modulation by Nutrition in General Population: Identifying and Substantiating Effects on Human Health

Exploring the Interactions between Probiotics and Health

Publications

All Publications

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