Applied and Environmental Microbiology vol:72 issue:9 pages:5990-7
Diet is a major factor in maintaining a healthy human gastrointestinal tract, and this has triggered the development of functional foods containing a probiotic and/or prebiotic component intended to improve the host's health via modulation of the intestinal microbiota. In this study, a long-term placebo-controlled crossover feeding study in which each subject received several treatments was performed to monitor the effect of a prebiotic substrate (i.e., lactulose), a probiotic organism (i.e., Saccharomyces boulardii), and their synbiotic combination on the fecal microbiota of three groups of 10 healthy human subjects differing in prebiotic dose and/or intake of placebo versus synbiotic. For this purpose, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons was used to detect possible changes in the overall bacterial composition using the universal V(3) primer and to detect possible changes at the subpopulation level using group-specific primers targeting the Bacteroides fragilis subgroup, the genus Bifidobacterium, the Clostridium lituseburense group (cluster XI), and the Clostridium coccoides-Eubacterium rectale group (cluster XIVa). Although these populations remained fairly stable based on DGGE profiling, one pronounced change was observed in the universal fingerprint profiles after lactulose ingestion. Band position analysis and band sequencing revealed that a band appearing or intensifying following lactulose administration could be assigned to the species Bifidobacterium adolescentis. Subsequent analysis with real-time PCR (RT-PCR) indicated a statistically significant increase (P < 0.05) in total bifidobacteria in one of the three subject groups after lactulose administration, whereas a similar but nonsignificant trend was observed in the other two groups. Combined RT-PCR results from two subject groups indicated a borderline significant increase (P = 0.074) of B. adolescentis following lactulose intake. The probiotic yeast S. boulardii did not display any detectable universal changes in the DGGE profiles, nor did it influence the bifidobacterial levels. This study highlighted the capacity of an integrated approach consisting of DGGE analysis and RT-PCR to monitor and quantify pronounced changes in the fecal microbiota of healthy subjects upon functional food administration.