Background: The human gut houses one of the most complex and abundant ecosystems composed of up to 10(13)-10(14) microorganisms. The importance of this intestinal microbiota is highlighted when a disruption of the intestinal ecosystem equilibrium appears (a phenomenon called dysbiosis) leading to an illness status, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Indeed, the reduction of the commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (one of the most prevalent intestinal bacterial species in healthy adults) has been correlated with several diseases, including IBD, and most importantly, it has been shown that this bacterium has anti-inflammatory and protective effects in pre-clinical models of colitis. Some dysbiosis disorders are characterized by functional and physiological alterations. Here, we report the beneficial effects of F. prausnitzii in the physiological changes induced by a chronic low-grade inflammation in a murine model. Chronic low-grade inflammation and gut dysfunction were induced in mice by two episodes of dinitro-benzene sulfonic acid (DNBS) instillations. Markers of inflammation, gut permeability, colonic serotonin and cytokine levels were studied. The effects of F. prausnitzii strain A2-165 and its culture supernatant (SN) were then investigated.
Results: No significant differences were observed in classical inflammation markers confirming that inflammation was subclinical. However, gut permeability, colonic serotonin levels and the colonic levels of the cytokines IL-6, INF-γ, IL-4 and IL-22 were higher in DNBS-treated than in untreated mice. Importantly, mice treated with either F. prausnitzii or its SN exhibited significant decreases in intestinal permeability, tissue cytokines and serotonin levels.
Conclusions: Our results show that F. prausnitzii and its SN had beneficial effects on intestinal epithelial barrier impairment in a chronic low-grade inflammation model. These observations confirm the potential of this bacterium as a novel probiotic treatment in the management of gut dysfunction and low-grade inflammation.