Aim: The aim of this study was to measure the gastrointestinal survival of Lactobacillus casei and its impact on the gut microflora in healthy human volunteers.
Methods and results: Twenty healthy volunteers took part in a double-blind placebo-controlled probiotic feeding study (10 fed probiotic, 10 fed placebo). The probiotic was delivered in two 65 ml aliquots of fermented milk drink (FMD) daily for 21 days at a dose of 8.6 +/- 0.1 Log(10)Lact. casei CFU ml(-1) FMD. Faecal samples were collected before, during and after FMD or placebo consumption, and important groups of faecal bacteria enumerated by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) using oligonucleotide probes targeting the 16S rRNA. The fed Lact. casei was enumerated using selective nutrient agar and colony identity confirmed by pulsed field gel electrophoresis. Seven days after ingestion of FMD, the Lact. casei was recovered from faecal samples taken from the active treatment group at 7.1 +/- 0.4 Log(10) CFU g(-1) faeces (mean +/- SD, n = 9) and numbers were maintained at this level until day 21. Lact. casei persisted in six volunteers until day 28 at 5.0 +/- 0.9 Log(10) CFU g(-1) faeces (mean +/- SD, n = 6). Numbers of faecal lactobacilli increased significantly upon FMD ingestion. In addition, the numbers of bifidobacteria were higher on days 7 and 21 than on days 0 and 28 in both FMD fed and placebo fed groups. Consumption of Lact. casei had little discernible effect on other bacterial groups enumerated.
Conclusions: Daily consumption of FMD enabled a probiotic Lact. casei strain to be maintained in the gastrointestinal tract of volunteers at a stable relatively high population level during the probiotic feeding period.
Significance and impact of the study: The study has confirmed that this probiotic version of Lact. casei survives well within the human gastrointestinal tract.