Probiotics and prebiotics have been demonstrated to positively modulate the intestinal microflora and could promote host health. Although some studies have been performed on combinations of probiotics and prebiotics, constituting synbiotics, results on the synergistic effects tend to be discordant in the published works. The first aim of our study was to screen some lactic acid bacteria on the basis of probiotic characteristics (resistance to intestinal conditions, inhibition of pathogenic strains). Bifidobacterium was the most resistant genus whereas Lactobacillus farciminis was strongly inhibited. The inhibitory effect on pathogen growth was strain dependent but lactobacilli were the most effective, especially L. farciminis. The second aim of the work was to select glucooligosaccharides for their ability to support the growth of the probiotics tested. We demonstrated the selective fermentability of oligodextran and oligoalternan by probiotic bacteria, especially the bifidobacteria, for shorter degrees of polymerisation and absence of metabolism by pathogenic bacteria. Thus, the observed characteristics confer potential prebiotic properties on these glucooligosaccharides, to be further confirmed in vivo, and suggest some possible applications in synbiotic combinations with the selected probiotics. Furthermore, the distinctive patterns of the different genera suggest a combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria with complementary probiotic effects in addition to the prebiotic ones. These associations should be further evaluated for their synbiotic effects through in vitro and in vivo models.
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