Chitosan was used as a coating material to improve encapsulation of a probiotic and prebiotic in calcium alginate beads. Chitosan-coated alginate microspheres were produced to encapsulate Lactobacillus gasseri (L) and Bifidobacterium bifidum (B) as probiotics and the prebiotic quercetin (Q) with the objective of enhancing survival of the probiotic bacteria and keeping intact the prebiotic during exposure to the adverse conditions of the gastro-intestinal tract. The encapsulation yield for viable cells for chitosan-coated alginate microspheres with quercetin (L+Q and B+Q) was very low. These results, together with the study about the survival of microspheres with quercetin during storage at 4 degrees C, demonstrated that probiotic bacteria microencapsulated with quercetin did not survive. Owing to this, quercetin and L. gasseri or B. bifidum were microencapsulated separately. Microencapsulated L. gasseri and microencapsulated B. bifidum were resistant to simulated gastric conditions (pH 2.0, 2h) and bile solution (3%, 2h), resulting in significantly (p<0.05) improved survival when compared with free bacteria. This work showed that the microencapsulation of L. gasseri and B. bifidum with alginate and a chitosan coating offers an effective means of delivery of viable bacterial cells to the colon and maintaining their survival during simulated gastric and intestinal juice.
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