Mechanisms of probiotic action: Implications for therapeutic applications in inflammatory bowel diseases

Charles Vanderpool, Fang Yan, D. Brent Polk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

208 Scopus citations

Abstract

Probiotics are defined as nonpathogenic living microorganisms, including some commensal bacterial flora, which have beneficial effects on host health and disease prevention and/or treatment. Clinical trials have shown beneficial effects of probiotics on several human diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), which are among the most-studied diseases testing probiotics as a potential therapy. However, a significant question regarding clinical use of probiotics is the mechanism underlying the wide range of actions. Studies discussed in this review suggest 3 distinct cellular and molecular mechanisms for probiotic regulation in IBD therapy: 1) Probiotics block pathogenic bacterial effects by producing bactericidal substances and competing with pathogens and toxins for adherence to the intestinal epithelium; 2) Probiotics regulate immune responses by enhancing the innate immunity and modulating pathogen-induced inflammation via toll-like receptor-regulated signaling pathways; and 3) Probiotics regulate intestinal epithelial homeostasis by promoting intestinal epithelial cell survival, enhancing barrier function, and stimulating protective responses. Probiotics modulate host cell signaling pathways, including Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and nuclear factor-κB to mediate these intestinal epithelial functions. It is hoped that developing a mechanistic understanding of probiotic action will provide the rationale to support the development of new hypothesis-driven studies to define the clinical efficacy in preventive, adjunctive, or alternative treatments for IBD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1585-1596
Number of pages12
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Immune response
  • Intestinal epithelial cell
  • Mechanism
  • Probiotics
  • Signaling pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology

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