Probiotic strain specificity key for supplement formulation

For probiotic formulators, understanding the specific types of living microorganisms and their functions is essential to help consumers achieve optimal aspects of health and, therefore, overall health.

The majority of probiotic strains are derived from the lactic acid-producing genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Clinical trials in recent decades have shown that species in these two groups, such as L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus Where B. lactis, offer unique advantages and perform different functions. However, a growing body of research supports the concept that variations exist between strains of the same species.L. rhamnosus GG, for example, has been shown to help inhibit traveler’s diarrhea.1

In the same way, Bifidobacterium animalis BB-12 has been shown improve digestive health and motility,2 stimulate the immune response to influenza vaccination,3 and reduce the number of days with self-reported upper respiratory symptoms in otherwise healthy adults.4 However, the clinical evidence from these trials does not necessarily support the efficacy of other Bifidobacterium lactis strains.

The specificity of the strain is extremely important for formulation, marketing and most importantly the efficacy of the product, ”noted Mike Weiser, Ph.D., director of innovation at PanTheryx, an integrative digestive health company and distributor of TruBiotics probiotics.. “Many brands of probiotics will focus on the number of CFUs (colony forming units) in the product. CFUs represent the number of live probiotics in the product, but do not always indicate efficacy or effectiveness. Instead, manufacturers should focus on the specific strain of the probiotic. The clinical evidence behind probiotics is specific to individual strains.

According to John Deaton, vice president of science and technology at Deerland Probiotics and Enzymes, “There is no guarantee that just because probiotics come from the same species, they will behave or function in the same way. “, he explained. “Formulators should therefore take this into account and consider formulating with strains that have been shown, through strain-specific studies, to work as desired. Otherwise, they run the risk of creating products that might not have the desired stability or benefits. “

Niklas Larsson, director of scientific affairs at Probi, said the importance of strain specificity in product formulation is “linked to microbiological mechanisms and associated health benefits. Certain mechanisms are prevalent / common for a large group of probiotics; some may be related to a species; and some more specific health benefits can be, and often are, strain specific.5

Regarding the labeling of probiotic dietary supplement products, “It is generally a good idea to include the strain name on the label, because API recommended [International Probiotics Association], although there may not be strain-specific clinical data for all strains of a product, ”Larsson said. Indeed, several international probiotic guidelines recommend that the strain designation be reported in clinical trials, in part to help companies use and justify strain-specific efficacy.

Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from a longer article in the “Probiotics: Macro Trends in Microorganisms“Digital magazine. Click the link to access it and other perspectives on the category.

Kristen McPhee ( is a published writer, experienced justification researcher, and technical writing consultant. She is regularly engaged by dietary supplement and raw ingredient supply companies to provide qualitative documents and comprehensive reports that contribute to product development and marketing content.

The references

1 Hilton E et al. “Efficacy of Lactobacillus GG as diarrheal prevention in travelers. »J Voyage Med. 1997; 4 (1): 41-43.

2 Eskesen D et al. “Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12, on bowel frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. »Brother J Nutr. 2015; 114 (10): 1638-1646.

3 Rizzardini G et al. “Evaluation of the immune benefits of two probiotic strains Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis, BB-12 and Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei, L. casei 431 in an influenza vaccination model: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. »Brother J Nutr. 2012; 107 (6): 876-884.

4 Meng H et al. “Consumption of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 impacts upper respiratory tract infections and NK and T cell function in healthy adults. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016; 60 (5): 1161-1171.

5 Hill C et al. “Consensus statement from the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic.” »Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014; 11: 506-514.

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