Probiotics are increasingly used by consumers and practitioners to reduce gastrointestinal (GI) distress and improve gut function. Here, we sought to determine whether the addition of supplemental bacteriophages (PreforPro) could enhance the effects of a common probiotic, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis (B. lactis) on GI health. A total of 68 participants were enrolled in a 4-week, randomized, parallel-arm, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial where primary outcomes included self-assessments of GI health, a daily stool log, and 16s rRNA analysis of gut microbial populations. We observed within-group improvements in GI inflammation (p = 0.01) and a trending improvement in colon pain (p = 0.08) in individuals consuming B. lactis with PreforPro, but not in the group consuming only the probiotic. There was also a larger increase in Lactobacillus and short-chain fatty acid-producing microbial taxa detected in the stool of participants taking PreforPro with B. lactis compared to the probiotic alone. Overall, these results suggest the addition of PreforPro as a combination therapy may alter gut ecology to extend the GI benefits of consuming B. lactis or other probiotics.
Keywords: Bifidobacterium; bacteriophage; gut microbiota; intestinal health; microbiome; probiotic.