Most clinical studies of probiotics use freeze-dried, powdered bacteria or bacteria packed in capsules. However, probiotics are commercially available in various food matrices, which may affect their persistence in the gastrointestinal tract. The objective of the study was to compare oral and faecal recovery during and after administration of a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and LC705, Propionibacterium freudenreichii subsp. shermanii JS, and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bb12 as capsules, yoghurt, or cheese. This randomized, parallel-group, open-label trial (n=36) included a 4-week run-in, 2-week intervention, and 3-week follow-up period. Participants consumed 10(10)cfu/day of probiotic combination and provided saliva and faecal samples before, during, and after the intervention. Strain-specific real-time PCR was used to quantify the strains. L. rhamnosus GG was the only probiotic strain regularly recovered in saliva samples. During the intervention period it was recovered in the saliva of 88% of the volunteers at least once. No difference was found between the yoghurt and cheese groups. At the end of the intervention, L. rhamnosus GG and LC705 counts were high in faecal samples of all product groups (8.08 and 8.67log(10) genome copies/g, respectively). There was no matrix effect on strain quantity in faeces or the recovery time after ceasing the intervention. For P. freudenreichii subsp. shermanii JS and B. animalis subsp. lactis Bb12, a matrix effect was found at the end of the intervention (P<0.01 and P<0.001, respectively) and in the recovery time during follow-up (P<0.05 for both). Yoghurt yielded the highest faecal quantity of JS and Bb12 strains (8.01 and 9.89log(10) genome copies/g, respectively). The results showed that the administration matrix did not influence the faecal quantity of lactobacilli, but affected faecal counts of propionibacteria and bifidobacteria that were lower when consumed in cheese. Thus, the consumption of probiotics in yoghurt matrix is highly suitable for studying potential health benefits and capsules provide a comparable means of administration when the viability of the strain in the capsule product is confirmed.
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