Bifidobacterium strains can provide several health benefits, such as antimicrobial and immunomodulatory effects. Some strains inhibit growth or cell adhesion of pathogenic bacteria, including multidrug-resistant bacteria, and their antibacterial activity can be intensified when combined with certain antibiotics. In addition, some strains of bifidobacteria reduce viral infectivity, leading to less epithelial damage of intestinal tissue, lowering the virus shedding titer, and controlling the release of antiviral substances. Furthermore, bifidobacteria can modulate the immune system by increasing immunoglobulins, and inducing or reducing pro- or antiinflammatory cytokines, respectively. In particular, these anti-inflammatory effects are helpful in the treatment of patients who are already suffering from infection or inflammatory diseases. This review summarizes the antimicrobial effects and mechanisms, and immunomodulatory effects of Bifidobacterium strains, suggesting the potential of bifidobacteria as an alternative or complementary treatment option.
Keywords: Antimicrobial; antiviral; bifidobacteria; probiotics.