Safety evaluation of HOWARU® Restore (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bl-04 and B. lactis Bi-07) for antibiotic resistance, genomic risk factors, and acute toxicity

Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Dec:110:316-324. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.10.037. Epub 2017 Nov 5.


Although probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are generally considered safe by various regulatory agencies, safety properties, such as absence of transferable antibiotic resistance, must still be determined for each strain prior to market introduction as a probiotic. Safety requirements for probiotics vary regionally and evaluation methods are not standardized, therefore methodologies are often adopted from food ingredients or chemicals to assess microbial safety. Four individual probiotic strains, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37®, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis strains Bl-04®, and Bi-07®, and their combination (HOWARU® Restore) were examined for antibiotic resistance by broth microdilution culture, toxin genes by PCR and genome mining, and acute oral toxicity in rats. Only B. lactis Bl-04 exhibited antibiotic resistance above a regulated threshold due to a tetW gene previously demonstrated to be non-transferable. Genomic mining did not reveal any bacterial toxin genes known to harm mammalian hosts in any of the strains. The rodent studies did not indicate any evidence of acute toxicity following a dose of 1.7-4.1 × 1012 CFU/kg body weight. Considering a 100-fold safety margin, this corresponds to 1.2-2.8 × 1012 CFU for a 70 kg human. Our findings demonstrate a comprehensive approach of in vitro, in silico, and in vivo safety testing for probiotics.

Keywords: Acute toxicity; Bifidobacterium; Genomics; Lactobacillus; Probiotics; Rats.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bifidobacterium animalis / drug effects
  • Bifidobacterium animalis / genetics*
  • Bifidobacterium animalis / physiology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genomics
  • Lacticaseibacillus paracasei / drug effects
  • Lacticaseibacillus paracasei / genetics*
  • Lacticaseibacillus paracasei / physiology
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / drug effects
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / genetics*
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus / physiology
  • Probiotics / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents