Synergistic protection of combined probiotic conditioned media against neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis-like intestinal injury

PLoS One. 2013 May 24;8(5):e65108. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065108. Print 2013.


Balance among the complex interactions of the gut microbial community is important for intestinal health. Probiotic bacteria can improve bacterial balance and have been used to treat gastrointestinal diseases. Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a life-threatening inflammatory bowel disorder primarily affecting premature infants. NEC is associated with extensive inflammatory NF-κB signaling activation as well as intestinal barrier disruption. Clinical studies have shown that probiotic administration may protect against NEC, however there are safety concerns associated with the ingestion of large bacterial loads in preterm infants. Bacteria-free conditioned media (CM) from certain probiotic organisms have been shown to retain bioactivity including anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties without the risks of live organisms. We hypothesized that the CM from Lactobacillus acidophilus (La), Bifidobacterium infantis (Bi), and Lactobacillus plantarum (Lp), used separately or together would protect against NEC. A rodent model with intestinal injury similar to NEC was used to study the effect of CM from Lp, La/Bi, and La/Bi/Lp on the pathophysiology of NEC. All the CM suppressed NF-κB activation via preserved IκBα expression and this protected IκBα was associated with decreased liver activity of the proteasome, which is the degrading machinery for IκBα. These CM effects also caused decreases in intestinal production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α, a downstream target of the NF-κB pathway. Combined La/Bi and La/Bi/Lp CM in addition protected intestinal barrier function by maintaining tight junction protein ZO-1 levels and localization at the tight junction. Double combined La/Bi CM significantly reduced intestinal injury incidence from 43% to 28% and triple combined La/Bi/Lp CM further reduced intestinal injury incidence to 20%. Thus, this study demonstrates different protective mechanisms and synergistic bioactivity of the CM from different organisms in ameliorating NEC-like intestinal injury in an animal model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology*
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / metabolism
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / drug effects
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Tight Junctions / drug effects
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein / metabolism


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex