Evaluation of the fate of Lactobacillus crispatus BC4, carried in Squacquerone cheese, throughout the simulator of the human intestinal microbial ecosystem (SHIME)

Food Res Int. 2020 Nov:137:109580. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2020.109580. Epub 2020 Jul 23.


Lactobacillus crispatus strain BC4, isolated from the human healthy vaginal environment and characterised by a strong antimicrobial activity against urogenital pathogens and foodborne microorganisms, was employed as a probiotic culture in the cheesemaking of the soft cheese Squacquerone. Such cheese is intended as a "gender food", that could be used as a hedonistic dietary strategy to reduce the incidence of woman vaginal dysbiosis and infections, given the evidence that a probiotic strain able to survive to the entire digestive process once ingested, can pass from intestine to vagina. This work was aimed to evaluate the resistance of L. crispatus BC4, carried in Squacquerone cheese, to different challenges of the human gastrointestinal tract, including the colon stage. The digestion process was tested using a Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME®). The viability and metabolic activity of L. crispatus BC4 during the colon simulation were monitored by qPCR and gas chromatography, respectively, also in the presence of a complex microbiota. The results showed that L. crispatus BC4 survival was not affected by the gastric condition, while it was significantly affected by bile salts and pancreatic juice in small intestine conditions, where it decreased of approx. 0.6 log (colony-forming units) CFU/g. Differently, during colon simulation L. crispatus BC4 was able to grow in sterile colon conditions and to maintain viability in the presence of a complex microbiota. Moreover, during colon simulation, L. crispatus BC4 was metabolically active as demonstrated by the higher production of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and lactate. In the presence of a complex gut microbiota, a decrease of lactate was observed, due to its conversion into propionate (anti-cholesterol activity) and butyrate (anti-inflammatory activity) by cross-feeding. However, no differences in propionate and butyrate production could be observed between control cheese and cheese containing L. crispatus BC4. Despite this may appear as a negative outcome, it must be taken into account that, in this setup, only a single dose of the cheese was tested and the outcome of the colonization and impact of the gut microbiota might be different when daily repeated doses are tested.

Keywords: Dairy products; Functional cheese; Lactobacillus crispatus BC4; Probiotic activity; SHIME®; Vaginal strain; “Gender food”.

MeSH terms

  • Cheese*
  • Ecosystem
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines
  • Lactobacillus crispatus*
  • Probiotics*