Probiotic cultures as a potential protective strategy against the toxicity of environmentally relevant chemicals: State-of-the-art knowledge

Food Chem Toxicol. 2023 Feb:172:113582. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2022.113582. Epub 2022 Dec 26.


Environmentally relevant toxic substances may affect human health, provoking numerous harmful effects on central nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine and reproductive system, and even cause various types of carcinoma. These substances, to which general population is constantly and simultaneously exposed, enter human body via food and water, but also by inhalation and dermal contact, while accumulating evidence suggests that probiotic cultures are able to efficiently adsorb and/or degrade them. Cell wall of probiotic bacteria/fungi, which contains structures such as exopolysaccharide, teichoic acid, protein and peptidoglycan components, is considered the main place of toxic substances adsorption. Moreover, probiotics are able to induce metabolism and degradation of various toxic substances, making them less toxic and more suitable for elimination. Other probable in vivo protective effects have also been suggested, including decreased intestinal absorption and increased excretion of toxic substances, prevented gut microbial dysbiosis, increase in the intestinal mucus secretion, decreased production of reactive oxygen species, reduction of inflammation, etc. Having all of this in mind, this review aims to summarize the state-of-the-art knowledge regarding the potential protective effects of different probiotic strains against environmentally relevant toxic substances (mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, bisphenol A and toxic metals).

Keywords: Binding; Degradation; Environmental chemicals; Exposure; Mitigation; Probiotic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Heavy Metal Poisoning
  • Humans
  • Pesticides* / metabolism
  • Probiotics* / pharmacology


  • Pesticides