[Lactic acid bacteria and health: are probiotics safe for human?]

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2014 Nov 17:68:1325-34. doi: 10.5604/17322693.1129120.
[Article in Polish]


The effect of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium on human health has been examined for many years. Numerous in vivo and in vitro studies have confirmed the beneficial activity of some exogenous lactic acid bacteria in the treatment and prevention of rotaviral infection, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal disorders. Probiotics support the action of the intestinal microflora and exhibit a favorable modulatory effect on the host's immune system. However, it should be remembered that relatively harmless lactobacilli can occasionally induce opportunistic infections. Due to reaching almost 20x10(12) probiotic doses per year which contain live cultures of bacteria, it is essential to monitor the safety aspect of their administration. In recent years, infections caused by Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium made up 0.05% to 0.4% of cases of endocarditis and bacteremia. In most cases, the infections were caused by endogenous microflora of the host or bacterial strains colonizing the host's oral cavity. According to a review of cases of infections caused by bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus from 2005 (collected by J.P. Cannot'a), 1.7% of infections have been linked directly with intensive dairy probiotic consumption by patients. Additionally, due to the lack of a precise description of most individuals' eating habits, the possible effect of probiotics on infection development definitively should not be ruled out. The present paper describes cases of diseases caused by lactic acid bacteria, a potential mechanism for the adverse action of bacteria, and the possible hazard connected with probiotic supplementation for seriously ill and hospitalized patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium / pathogenicity*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Lactic Acid / adverse effects
  • Lactobacillus / pathogenicity*
  • Probiotics / adverse effects*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use


  • Lactic Acid