In vitro screening of probiotics and synbiotics according to anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects

Int J Food Microbiol. 2010 Nov 15;144(1):42-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2010.09.007. Epub 2010 Sep 17.


There is emerging evidence of the efficiency of probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic treatments in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) and one of their long-term complications, colorectal cancer (CRC). In this study, various strains of probiotic lactic acid bacteria, prebiotic glucooligosaccharides (GOS) or a synbiotic combination of the two were screened for anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative effects in different in vitro models in the context of such diseases. To mimic IBD response to Gram negative bacteria, HT-29 cells were sensitised to inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) by IFNγ which increased expression of TLR4, the LPS biosensor, and were then treated by probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. Secreted IL-8 and activated NF-κB were monitored as inflammation biomarkers. A selection of active strains were then subjected to a second inflammatory cell culture model consisting of inflammatory activated transgenic Caco-2 cells transfected by a reporter gene under the control of NF-κB inducible promoter. Quantification of reporter gene expression allowed us to demonstrate some probiotic inhibitory properties or to confirm such characteristics in two different models. Proliferation of cancerous HT-29 cells was monitored by XTT assay. Only three probiotic strains induced a proliferation decrease, but with a lack of reproducibility. Binary or ternary probiotic associations, complemented or not by prebiotic GOS, significantly decreased proliferation, especially with a synbiotic association of Bifidobacterium breve, Lactococcus lactis and oligoalternan, a GOS. This combination was selected for the following experiments. We showed the involvement of both bacterial and carbohydrate compounds of this synbiotic in the observed effect by dose range tests. We demonstrated that this decrease in proliferation may be due to an induction of a differentiated phenotype, as shown by the up-regulation of intestinal alkaline phosphatase, a biomarker of differentiation, monitored by real-time RT-PCR in HT-29 cells treated by the selected synbiotics. Thus, this study demonstrates the ability of probiotics to exert anti-inflammatory effects and shows some anti-proliferative characteristics for a specific synbiotics. These products should be further evaluated in animal models to confirm the in vitro results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / metabolism
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Probiotics / metabolism*
  • Synbiotics*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interleukin-8
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Interferon-gamma