Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Second generation functional foods

The project stemmed from the realization that although probiotic food products (eg bio yoghurts) are accepted in the market place, scientific evidence for their efficacy and possible modes of action is very inadequate. A better understanding of probiotic action will lead to novel products that improve the health of European consumers and give competitive advantage to European food producers. A wide range of health benefits have been associated with the consumption of probiotic food products containing lactobacilli and other bacteria but the work has concentrated on two potential beneficial activities; blood cholesterol lowering and anti-carcinogenic/anti-genotoxic activity. There have been reports of blood cholesterol lowering by probiotic food products consumption and various mechanisms have been proposed to explain this effect. A hypothesis of cholesterol assimilation by intestinal bacteria, leading to increased excretion of cholesterol has received the most support. This hypothesis has been investigated by in vitro and in vivo studies; however, no evidence for the assimilation of cholesterol by bacteria could be found. Tests are now underway on 300 Lactobacillus strains to see which strains possess hydrolase activity (their ability to separate amino acid-bile salt complexes). The bile salt (without the amino acid) is more likely to be excreted and so more bile salts are produced by the breakdown of cholesterol to maintain the bile acid pool, giving a lowering of cholesterol. Different approaches have been used to investigate potential anti-genotoxic and carcinogenic properties of lactic acid bacteria. Specific strains of Lactobacillus bacteria have been shown to have anti-genotoxic properties. These protective effects of Lactobacillus feeding have been shown using a range of carcinogens and the mechanism of action is being investigated. The dose regime of carcinogen administration and background diet formulation has been improved to increase the sensitivity of the method for the detection of the protective effects of the bacteria.

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