Aim: To evaluate the ability of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536 to colonize the intestinal environment of healthy subjects and modify the gut microbiota composition.
Methods: Twenty healthy Italian volunteers, eight males and twelve females, participated in the study. Ten subjects took a sachet containing 4 × 109 colony-forming units (CFU) of Bifidobacterium longum BB536 and 109 CFU of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, 30 min before breakfast (pre-prandial administration), while ten subjects took a sachet of probiotic product 30 min after breakfast (post-prandial administration). The ability of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Bifidobacterium longum BB536 to colonize human gut microbiota was assessed by means of quantitative real-time PCR, while changes in gut microbiota composition were detected by using Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine.
Results: Immediately after 1-mo of probiotic administration, B. longum BB536 and L. rhamnosus HN001 load was increased in the majority of subjects in both pre-prandial and post-prandial groups. This increase was found also 1 mo after the end of probiotic oral intake in both groups, if compared to samples collected before probiotic consumption. At phyla level a significant decrease in Firmicutes abundance was detected immediately after 1-mo of B. longum BB536 and L. rhamnosus HN001 oral intake. This reduction persisted up to 1 mo after the end of probiotic oral intake together with a significant decrease of Proteobacteria abundance if compared to samples collected before probiotic administration. Whereas, at species level, a higher abundance of Blautia producta, Blautia wexlerae and Haemophilus ducrey was observed, together with a reduction of Holdemania filiformis, Escherichia vulneris, Gemmiger formicilis and Streptococcus sinensis abundance. In addition, during follow-up period we observed a further reduction in Escherichia vulneris and Gemmiger formicilis, together with a decrease in Roseburia faecis and Ruminococcus gnavus abundance. Conversely, the abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila was increased if compared to samples collected at the beginning of the experimental time course.
Conclusion: B. longum BB536 and L. rhamnosus HN001 showed the ability to modulate the gut microbiota composition, leading to a significant reduction of potentially harmful bacteria and an increase of beneficial ones. Further studies are needed to better understand the specific mechanisms involved in gut microbiota modulation.
Keywords: Bifidobacterium; Gut microbiota; Human health; Lactobacillus; Probiotics.