Shared mechanisms among probiotic taxa: implications for general probiotic claims

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2018 Feb;49:207-216. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2017.09.007. Epub 2017 Nov 10.


Strain-specificity of probiotic effects has been a cornerstone principle of probiotic science for decades. Certainly, some important mechanisms are present in only a few probiotic strains. But scientific advances now reveal commonalities among members of certain taxonomic groups of probiotic microbes. Some clinical benefits likely derive from these shared mechanisms, suggesting that sub-species-specific, species-specific or genus-specific probiotic effects exist. Human trials are necessary to confirm specific health benefits. However, a strain that has not been tested in human efficacy trials may meet the minimum definition of the term 'probiotic' if it is a member of a well-studied probiotic species expressing underlying core mechanisms and it is delivered at an effective dose.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium / classification
  • Drug Labeling
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / classification*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / classification*


  • Prebiotics