Exploring new applications, in and beyond gut health…
In the early days of our company, digestive health and the maintenance of the gut microflora balance were the primary fields of investigation for the development and documentation of probiotics. All probiotic strains at Lallemand are screened for their ability to adhere to the gut epithelial surface, a prerequisite to a true “barrier effect”, protecting the gut lining from the attachment of potential pathogens. They are also screened for their ability to secrete lactic acid or other compounds known to inhibit the growth of major pathogens. Another interesting property is the ability of some probiotics to stimulate the production of mucus by the gut epithelium, or even anti-inflammatory cytokines. Such focus has lead to the documentation of many specific strains with a potential in digestive health, which can be used independently or in combination to design specific formulas.
Twenty years ago, the company has developed its flagship probiotic formula in digestive health: Lacidofil®, a combination of the Lactobacillus Rosell-52 and Lactobacillus Rosell-11. Today, no less than 22 clinical trials and numerous in vitro and pre-clinical studies describe its health benefits and major modes of action. Lacidofil® shows benefits in several specific areas: antibiotic-associated diarrhea prevention in children and adults, H. pylori eradication, acute gastroenteritis in children, management of IBS symptoms and lactose intolerance.
A second axis of probiotic research that has emerged more recently is the modulation of the body immune defences. There is now sufficient scientific evidence and growing clinical results showing the ability of certain selected strains to modulate either the innate or acquired immune response. Lallemand has dedicated a research program to the immunological evaluation of its strains. Several strains and blends show interesting immune modulating properties. In human studies, a synbiotic formula containing an optimal combination of Lactobacillus helveticus Rosell-52, Bifidobacterium bifidum Rosell-71 and Bifidobacterium infantis Rosell-33, with a prebiotic, has showed the ability to significantly reduce the incidence of common winter infections in children as compared to placebo, resulting in fewer sick days (Figure 1).
Effect of ProbioKid® formula on the number of schoolday loss due to winter infections (P<0.05) (Cazzola)
In the past few years, the interaction of the microflora with the brain-gut communication (the ‘brain-gut axis’) has gained momentum among the scientific community. Lallemand was one of the first companies to seriously look into this “gut-bugs-brain” triangle: in 2008, the company dedicated its first multi-disciplinary scientific symposium to this topic, gathering microbiology, nutrition and cognitive science experts. At this occasion was unveiled the first human study on probiotics and stress. A study on chronically stressed volunteers showed that a probiotic formula developed by Lallemand (Probio’Stick®, a specific blend of Lactobacillus helveticus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacterium longum Rosell-175) was able to alleviate gastro-intestinal symptoms linked to stress, mainly abdominal pain and nausea. In 2010, a new study was published, looking into this probiotics’ effects on psychological symptoms, using a range of psychological tests as well as a biomarker for stress and anxiety (cortisol). This unique study concluded to our strains’ beneficial effects on general signs of anxiety and depression, making Probio’Stick® the first probiotic solution proven to alleviate both physical and psychological symptoms of stress. These effects are supported by several pre-clinical studies, the latest being published in 2014.
Probio’Stick® significantly improves general signs of anxiety and depression (Messaoudi)
While our R&D programs pursue the investigations into probiotics benefits and modes of actions in those areas, we are also working on other innovative areas of applications, paving the way for the future of probiotics.