New research into these two important probiotic bacteria demonstrates their viability and potential benefit to human health.

Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Lactobacillus casei are two of the most well known and most studied probiotic bacteria at the present time. Both are widely available as nutritional supplements so it is important for consumers to know whether they are safe and worth the retail price. Two new research studies this published this week suggest both bacteria are both safe and effective.

Lactobacillus plantarum 299v is a strain of probiotic bacteria patented and manufactured by Probi, a biotech firm, and licensed to a number of nutritional supplement companies. The latest research was carried out at the Infectious Diseases Research Unit, Lund University, Malmo, Sweden and published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.

The research team set out to discover how intake of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v affects the concentrations of fecal organic acids during and after treatment with metronidazole (an antibiotic). The tests were carried out in 19 patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea.

Results showed that in patients given a placebo levels of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) butyrate dropped significantly. In the patients given Lactobacillus plantarum 299v however the levels of butyrate remained much higher. Butyrate is an important SCFA that acts as a source of energy for the cells of the colon and also acts to maintain healthy cell division.

The researchers state that this is the first clinical trial to show that the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum 299v reduces the negative effects of an antibiotic drug on colonic fermentation. They add that intake of this probiotic strain may therefore provide an additional benefit for patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea.

Lactobacillus casei is another popular probiotic bacteria used in a number of nutritional supplements and functional foods such as yoghurt drinks. The latest research into L. casei was carried out at the University of Reading in the UK and published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

The aim of this research was to find out how well the bacteria survives in the human gut and the effect it has on the total composition of bacteria that coexist there. The research was carried out on 20 healthy volunteers, 10 of whom were given a fermented milk drink containing Lactobacillus casei and 10 a placebo.

Results from the study showed that high numbers of L.casei could be recovered in the faeces of those given the fermented milk drink during the period of treatment. The researchers report that there was no significant alteration of other bacterial species.

The research team conclude that their study has confirmed the probiotic version of Lactobacillus casei survives well within the human gastrointestinal tract.



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