Cell-free whey from milk fermented with Bifidobacterium breve C50 used to modify the colonic microflora of healthy subjects

J Dairy Sci. 1998 May;81(5):1229-35. doi: 10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(98)75683-8.


The ingestion of viable bacteria is thought to be required to modify intestinal microflora. In the present study, the effects on fecal flora of consumption of cell-free concentrated whey from milk that had been fermented with Bifidobacterium breve C50 was tested using 10 healthy human volunteers. Results were compared with effects of a commercial milk formula that had been fermented with Streptococcus thermophilus and B. breve C50 and given to 10 control subjects. Nitroreductase and beta-glucuronidase activities were assessed as risk indexes for colon carcinogenesis, and beta-galactosidase was measured as an indicator of the fermentation capacity of the colonic flora. Fecal excretion of Bacteroides fragilis, Clostridium perfringens, and clostridial spores decreased after 7 d of consumption of either preparation; however, counts of bifidobacteria only increased after intake of B. breve whey. Fecal pH was reduced from 7.1 +/- 0.2 to 6.6 +/- 0.3 after intake of whey that had been fermented with Bif. breve. Fecal nitroreductase and beta-glucuronidase significantly decreased, and beta-galactosidase activity increased, after consumption of either preparation. The results indicate that ingestion of viable bifidobacteria was not required to modify intestinal flora of humans. Repression of B. fragilis and clostridia seems to be independent of colonic bifidobacterial overgrowth in humans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Bacteroides fragilis / isolation & purification
  • Bifidobacterium*
  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Fermentation*
  • Glucuronidase / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Milk / microbiology*
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Nitroreductases / analysis
  • Probiotics*
  • Spores, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus
  • Whey Proteins
  • beta-Galactosidase / analysis


  • Milk Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • Nitroreductases
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Glucuronidase