Lactobacillus casei BL23 has a recognized probiotic potential, which includes immune modulation, protection toward induced colitis, toward induced colon cancer and toward dissemination of pathogens. In L. casei, as well as in other probiotics, both probiotic and technological abilities are highly dependent (1) on the substrate used to grow bacteria and (2) on the process used to dry and store this biomass. Production and storage of probiotics, at a reasonable financial and environmental cost, becomes a crucial challenge. Food-grade media must be used, and minimal process is preferred. In this context, we have developed a "2-in-1" medium used both to grow and to dry L. casei BL23, considered a fragile probiotic strain. This medium consists in hyper-concentrated sweet whey (HCSW). L. casei BL23 grows in HCSW up to 30% dry matter, which is 6 times-concentrated sweet whey. Compared to isotonic sweet whey (5% dry matter), these growth conditions enhanced tolerance of L. casei BL23 toward heat, acid and bile salts stress. HCSW also triggered intracellular accumulation of polyphosphate, of glycogen and of trehalose. A gel-free global proteomic differential analysis further evidenced overexpression of proteins involved in pathways known to participate in stress adaptation, including environmental signal transduction, oxidative and metal defense, DNA repair, protein turnover and repair, carbohydrate, phosphate and amino acid metabolism, and in osmoadaptation. Accordingly, HCSW cultures of L. casei BL23 exhibited enhanced survival upon spray drying, a process known to drastically affect bacterial viability. This work opens new perspectives for sustainable production of dried probiotic lactobacilli, using food industry by-products and lowering energy costs.
Keywords: label-free proteomics; lactic acid bacteria; osmoregulation; physiology; probiotics; spray-drying; stress response.