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December 13, 2023
[Editor's note: To access the complete toolbox for all things biotics — formulator hacks, marketing tips, executive intel — download the free Natural Products Insider digital magazine here.]
From sleep, oral health and mood to heart function, fitness, and traditional digestive health and immunity, probiotic strains are being identified and revealed to function within specific areas of activity in human health and wellness. As such, a brand’s new (or renewed) formula may get a boost of efficacy and strength by adding some of these condition-targeted strains.
The fresh new era of probiotics is profuse. “Extensive research has shown that different probiotic strains work via different mechanisms of action, with their own unique influence on the mucosal microbiome,” explained Elnaz Karimian Azari, Ph.D., R&D principal scientist at Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients. “Consequently, specific probiotic strains trigger more distinct and highly specific human health benefits.”
Noah Zimmerman, Ph.D., chief technology officer at Verb Biotics, presented a more technical explanation: Bacterial strains are subsets of a species set apart by small changes in genetics, physiology or functionality. As a result of these differences, specific strains can have a selective advantage for surviving in certain environments or under certain conditions compared to others.
Researchers are exploring strain-specific mechanisms that may have beneficial impacts on a wide range of common concerns, such as digestive health, metabolic health, immune function, skin health and mental well-being, according to Richard Day, VP of medical affairs at ADM.
Let’s peer into the teeming world of probiotic strains to see how they act.
In a study funded by Chr. Hansen/IFF, researchers investigated how Lactobacillus plantarum lPla33 (DSM34428) would influence the IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)-SSS (severity scoring system) total score in 307 healthy adults with IBS-D (diarrhea). Participants took either 1 billion or 10 billion of the strain or placebo daily for eight weeks. Both probiotic groups experienced significant reductions in their IBS-SSS scores, with greater reduction seen in the 10 billion/daily group. Additionally, quantifiable reductions were noted in abdominal pain and distension in both L. plantarum groups compared to placebo.
In preclinical research, Kaneka and AB-Biotics demonstrated that their B. longum strain is capable of digesting human milk oligosaccharides and creating a particular postbiotic, polyphosphate, that may help strengthen the gut barrier in a symbiotic way, according to Jordi Riera, chief business officer and head of probiotics at Kaneka.
The inability to digest certain plant-based proteins can be an issue for some individuals. AnaMaria Cuentas, director of probiotics at Ildong Biosciences (Nutralliance), said her company has studied a probiotic strain for its potential effects in this area. She also noted increased demand for plant-based proteins, although they are not always as efficiently digested as animal-based proteins.
Researchers looked at the effect of four probiotic strains on proteolytic activity when bean protein was consumed. Of the four, Lacticaseibacillus casei IDCC 3451 was identified as the strain most effective at digesting the legumin protein.
As part of the study, the researchers fed subjects either a high-protein diet or a high-protein diet plus L. casei IDCC 3451 for eight weeks. Compared to the high-protein-only group, the concentrations of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs) were 1.36 and 1.41 times higher in the probiotic group, respectively. Therefore, the authors concluded, co-supplementation of plant-based proteins with L. casei IDCC 3451 can be suggested to improve protein digestibility.
ibSium from Gnosis by Lesaffre is a natural probiotic yeast the company developed to support intestinal comfort and quality of life. It is also a reference strain, patented and registered S. cerevisiae CNCM I-3856. According to Emilie Puppinck, senior product manager of biotics, ibSium has demonstrated clinical efficacy on intestinal comfort in four double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studies and a meta-analysis.
These studies demonstrated that daily administration of S. cerevisiae “can relieve occasional abdominal pain and improve the quality of life of people suffering from IBS,” Puppinck said. The studies also showed 63% of participants experienced a significant reduction in abdominal pain; 11.6% decrease of bloating intensity after ibSium supplementation period, compared with the placebo group; and normalization of stool consistency was observed within four weeks.
Nutralliance’s Lactobacillus salivarius IDCC 3551, according to Cuentas, has demonstrated efficacy in supporting healthy gums and curtailing the production of unpleasant bad breath. The study showed that the IDCC 3551 strain was able to inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas zinibalis. These two microorganisms are known to be responsible for instigating inflammation within the mouth. L. salivarius IDCC 3551 was also shown in this study to have anti-inflammatory properties by modulating the expression of cytokine genes associated with cytotoxicity and inflammation.
This category has a lot of buzz and research activity, something to be happy about.
A multi-strain probiotic from Probiotical S.p.A was investigated for its effects on mood and anxiety through neurotransmitter levels. In the study, 70 healthy adults took either the blend (Limosilactobacillus fermentum LF16, Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus LR06, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum LP01 and Bifidobacterium Longum 04) or placebo and were assessed at weeks two, four and six, as well as three weeks post-conclusion. Depression test scores were reduced from baseline in the supplement group. Specifically, when compared to participants in the placebo group, those in the probiotic group had significantly lower scores for state anxiety, trait anxiety and LEIDS-R (Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity-Revised), and plasma concentration of serotonin in the probiotic group was elevated after six weeks as well as three weeks post-study. However, the probiotic group had no changes in dopamine, C-reactive protein (CRP) or cortisol.
Lucie Lingrand, product manager of Lallemand Health Solutions, reported that the company’s combo-strain Cerebiome (L. helveticus Rosell-52 and B. longum Rosell-175) has six clinical studies, including “the first-ever human clinical study involving healthy stressed adults and probiotic intake, and 10 preclinical studies allowing to highlight eight mechanisms of action on the gut-brain axis.” Cerebiome promotes positive mood in times of stressful events and helps moderate physiological and psychological responses to occasional stress. Cerebiome is the first and only probiotic with authority-approved health claims on the gut-brain axis in Canada and in Brazil.
According to Riera, Kaneka and AB-Biotics’ L. plantarum DR7 was shown to support a healthy gut-brain axis and provide benefits for stress and mood.
In a recent 60-day study, consumers who supplemented with Nutiani HN001 (Lacticaseibacillius rhamnosus) reported greater happiness, as assessed by the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire. Maypro, the U.S. distributor of the ingredient, said the results of the study are consistent with those from two previous human trials demonstrating benefits of HN001 in mental wellness. Fonterra, the parent company of NZMP, which manages the Nutiani brand of ingredients, is currently validating those results in a larger randomized controlled trial expected to publish in 2024.
Of the aforementioned two studies, one was a randomized clinical trial on 380 women that found those taking HN001 had 1/30th the risk of developing postnatal depression compared to those taking placebo. Another, smaller randomized clinical trial on 26 adults showed improvement in mental wellness, as assessed by a Short Form 12 questionnaire.
In Probiotical’s first study on its Bifizen multi-strain probiotic, “We observed marked changes in several validated measures of mood among healthy persons after six weeks of daily supplementation; distinctively, a few of the measured changes persisted three weeks after ceasing supplementation,” maintained Marco Pane, Probiotical’s product development specialist. In a follow-up randomized controlled trial, researchers noted a greater and still persistent effect superior to placebo in relation to markers of mood and anxiety.
Pane noted a separate manuscript is currently being drafted for the sleep data from this study.
[To read all about women's health, sports and immunity applications for probiotic strains, access the full story by downloading the Natural Products Insider digital magazine here.]
Lisa Schofield is a veteran writer and editor who got her start interviewing rock stars for national music magazines. She now writes and edits content for B2B media and suppliers in the natural health product industry. She has served as editor for Vitamin Retailer and Nutrition Industry Executive, and prior to that as associate editor for Whole Foods.
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