Modulation of the intestinal microbial ecosystem (IME) is a useful target to establish probiotic efficacy in a healthy population. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, crossover, and placebo-controlled intervention study to determine the impact of Bifidobacterium bifidum strain Bb on the IME of adult healthy volunteers of both sexes. High-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to characterize the fecal microbiota before and after 4 weeks of daily probiotic cell consumption. The intake of approximately one billion live B. bifidum cells affected the relative abundance of dominant taxa in the fecal microbiota and modulated fecal butyrate levels. Specifically, Prevotellaceae (P = 0.041) and Prevotella (P = 0.034) were significantly decreased, whereas Ruminococcaceae (P = 0.039) and Rikenellaceae (P = 0.010) were significantly increased. We also observed that the probiotic intervention modulated the fecal concentrations of butyrate in a manner dependent on the initial levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). In conclusion, our study demonstrates that a single daily administration of Bifidobacterium bifidum strain Bb can significantly modify the IME in healthy (not diseased) adults. These findings demonstrate the need to reassess the notion that probiotics do not influence the complex and stable IME of a healthy individual.
Importance: Foods and supplements claimed to contain health-promoting probiotic microorganisms are everywhere these days and mainly intended for consumption by healthy people. However, it is still debated what actual effects probiotic products may have on the healthy population. In this study, we report the results of an intervention trial aimed at assessing the modifications induced in the intestinal microbial ecosystem of healthy adults from the consumption of a probiotic product. Our results demonstrate that the introduction of a probiotic product in the dietary habits of healthy people may significantly modify dominant taxa of the intestinal microbiota, resulting in the modulation of short-chain fatty acid concentrations in the gut. The overall changes witnessed in the probiotic intervention indicate a mechanism of microbiota modulation that could have potential effects on human health.
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