In-depth analyses of probiotic benefits, mechanisms and challenges aiming to advance probiotic knowledge at large
The task force aims at providing recommendations for beneficial probiotics usage for various target groups.
Probiotic bacteria may be defined as ‘live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’ (Hill et al, 2014). Consumers, the scientific community, regulators and the food industry show a sustained interest in these microorganisms and related functional effects.
- The growing public interest on probiotics needs to be sustained by a better scientific understanding on their role and mechanism of action.
- Increase awareness of the real impact of probiotics direct/indirect effects on health.Three publications that examine the intestinal barrier, its role in health and disease and the potential impact of probiotics on intestinal barrier function were published recently. J. Wells et al., 2016 describes the role of different defense mechanisms that support barrier function, how they are regulated and measured. It also focuses on biomarkers in blood, faeces or urine that can be used to assess intestinal permeability and epithelial integrity. J. König et al., 2016 discuss the role of intestinal permeability in common disorders such as infections with intestinal pathogens, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and food allergies. P. Bron et al., 2017 catalogue and categorise the lines of evidence available in literature for the role of probiotics in intestinal epithelial integrity and, consequently, their beneficial effects for the reduction of gastrointestinal disease symptoms.
The task force is planning to organise a joint session on the ‘Gut-Brain Axis’ during the 40th European Congress for Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) Congress, in September 2018, Madrid, Spain, with the task forces on Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation, Nutrition & Mental Performance and Prebiotics.
- The collaboration with the Prebiotics Task Force resulted in a Concise Monograph (Binns, 2013) that summarises the science and principles valid for prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics today. This publication is often used as teaching material by students and SMEs.
- The output of the expert group on ‘Mechanism of Probiotics Action’ has been disseminated at the Beneficial Microbes Conference 2018 and at Probiota 2019.
- The activity on ‘Gut Barrier Function’ produced 3 manuscripts (J.M. Wells et al., 2016, J. Köning et al., 2016, P.A. Bron et al., 2017) that have been cited altogether 311 times.
- The supplement in Journal of Nutrition titled ‘Guidance for Assessing the Probiotics Beneficial Effects: How to Fill the Gap’ (J. Neu, 2010) provides guidelines to support the design of probiotics studies that are intended to examine probiotics interactions with the gut and the microbiome. The 5 articles featured in the supplement received 741 citations in total.
Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’ – In collaboration with Early-Life and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Nutrition & Mental Performance; and Prebiotics Task Forces. – NEW
Background & Objectives
Currently, half of the literature available on the gut-brain axis is state-of-the-art reviews or correlative studies and comprehensive mechanistic insights underlining the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain are lacking.
In this context, several Nutrition Task Forces decided to join forces to understand where we stand today regarding the mechanisms and more specifically to:
- focus on translational aspects from pre-clinical to clinical studies;
- focus on lifespan-related changes (but not disease-related) in gut structure and function which play a role in long-term immune and brain health;
- discuss the nutritional and lifestyle interventions with positive impact on the lifespan gut structure/function and thus on immune and brain health.
A workshop will bring together key experts from different fields of expertise to debate and discuss on the current knowledge and data gaps, followed by a live-streamed debate leading to the publication of a report/position paper. A series of webinars will then be organised to discuss the identified gaps in more details.
Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’ – In collaboration with Early-Life and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; and Nutrition, Mental Performance & Prebiotics Task Forces – New
Current Opinion in Biotechnology (2018). Commissioned by the Probiotics Task Force.
British Journal of Nutrition 2017; 117 (1), 93-107. Commissioned by the Probiotics Task Force.
American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 2017; 312 (3): G171-G193. Commissioned by the Probiotics Task Force.
Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology 2016. 7, e196. Commissioned by the Probiotics Task Force.
British Journal of Nutrition 2013; 110(2):S1-S30. Commissioned by the Nutrition and Immunity and Probiotics Task Forces.