Postbiotics are functional bioactive compounds, generated in a matrix during fermentation, which may be used to promote health. The term postbiotics can be regarded as an umbrella term for all synonyms and related terms of these microbial fermentation components. Therefore, postbiotics can include many different constituents including metabolites, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), microbial cell fractions, functional proteins, extracellular polysaccharides (EPS), cell lysates, teichoic acid, peptidoglycan-derived muropeptides and pili-type structures. Postbiotics is also a rather new term in the '-biotics' field. Where consensus exists for the definitions of pre- and probiotics, this is not yet the case for postbiotics. Here we propose a working definition and review currently known postbiotic compounds, their proposed mechanisms, clinical evidence and potential applications. Research to date indicates that postbiotics can have direct immunomodulatory and clinically relevant effects and evidence can be found for the use of postbiotics in healthy individuals to improve overall health and to relief symptoms in a range of diseases such as infant colic and in adults atopic dermatitis and different causes of diarrhea.
Keywords: fermented infant formula; gut microbiota; postbiotics.