Aim: To study the onset and duration of a possible effect of a fermented oatmeal drink containing Lactobacillus plantarum 299v on the composition of the faecal flora of healthy volunteers in a placebo-controlled, double-blind study.
Methods: Twenty-two participants consumed a fermented oatmeal drink with or without L. plantarum 299v for 4 weeks. Faecal samples were collected weekly: two samples before, four during and four after the consumption of the drink. Several bacterial species were counted and enzyme activities, short-chain fatty acid concentrations, endotoxin concentration and pH were determined. L. plantarum 299v was identified using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA.
Results: In contrast with the placebo group, median lactobacilli counts increased significantly from 4.2 (3.4-6.3) to 8.2 (7.3-8.5) log colony-forming units/gram faeces (P = 0.005) after 1 week of consumption of L. plantarum 299v, thereafter remaining stable during the treatment period. One week after cessation, a significant decrease in lactobacilli [to 4.4 (2.2-6.5) log colony-forming units/gram faeces] was observed (P = 0.003). These lactobacilli were identified as L. plantarum 299v. All other bacterial counts, enzyme activities, short-chain fatty acid concentrations, endotoxin concentration and pH remained unchanged.
Conclusions: L. plantarum 299v significantly increased the number of lactobacilli in the faecal flora within 1 week, and this effect disappeared within 1 week after cessation of intake. No other changes in bacterial counts and metabolic products were observed.