Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host when ingested in adequate amounts. The strains most frequently used as probiotics include lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Probiotics have demonstrated significant potential as therapeutic options for a variety of diseases, but the mechanisms responsible for these effects have not been fully elucidated yet. Several important mechanisms underlying the antagonistic effects of probiotics on various microorganisms include the following: modification of the gut microbiota, competitive adherence to the mucosa and epithelium, strengthening of the gut epithelial barrier and modulation of the immune system to convey an advantage to the host. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that probiotics communicate with the host by pattern recognition receptors, such as toll-like receptors and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-containing protein-like receptors, which modulate key signaling pathways, such as nuclear factor-ĸB and mitogen-activated protein kinase, to enhance or suppress activation and influence downstream pathways. This recognition is crucial for eliciting measured antimicrobial responses with minimal inflammatory tissue damage. A clear understanding of these mechanisms will allow for appropriate probiotic strain selection for specific applications and may uncover novel probiotic functions. The goal of this systematic review was to explore probiotic modes of action focusing on how gut microbes influence the host.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.