High γ-aminobutyric acid production from lactic acid bacteria: Emphasis on Lactobacillus brevis as a functional dairy starter

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 22;57(17):3661-3672. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1147418.


γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and GABA-rich foods have shown anti-hypertensive and anti-depressant activities as the major functions in humans and animals. Hence, high GABA-producing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) could be used as functional starters for manufacturing novel fermented dairy foods. Glutamic acid decarboxylases (GADs) from LAB are highly conserved at the species level based on the phylogenetic tree of GADs from LAB. Moreover, two functionally distinct GADs and one intact gad operon were observed in all the completely sequenced Lactobacillus brevis strains suggesting its common capability to synthesize GABA. Difficulties and strategies for the manufacture of GABA-rich fermented dairy foods have been discussed and proposed, respectively. In addition, a genetic survey on the sequenced LAB strains demonstrated the absence of cell envelope proteinases in the majority of LAB including Lb. brevis, which diminishes their cell viabilities in milk environments due to their non-proteolytic nature. Thus, several strategies have been proposed to overcome the non-proteolytic nature of Lb. brevis in order to produce GABA-rich dairy foods.

Keywords: Lactobacillus brevis; cell envelope proteinase; dairy fermentation; dairy starter culture; glutamic acid decarboxylase; γ-aminobutyric acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dairy Products / microbiology*
  • Fermentation*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Levilactobacillus brevis / metabolism
  • Levilactobacillus brevis / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / biosynthesis*


  • Lactic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid