Challenges in translational research on probiotic lactobacilli: from in vitro assays to clinical trials

M. Meijerink, A.M.E. Mercenier, J. Wells

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Beneficial effects of certain probiotic strains have been established in the treatment and prevention of various immune and intestinal disorders in humans, including allergic diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases and diarrhoea. The proposed mechanisms underlying the immunomodulatory effects of probiotics in humans are not understood in precise detail but include enhancement of intestinal barrier function, altered epithelial signalling, competition with pathogens and effects on immune cells and immunity depending on the probiotic strain. The publication of controversial or inconclusive probiotic studies in humans highlights the need for a better understanding of the mechanisms and improved strain selection criteria. This review focuses on the immunomodulatory properties of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in vitro and in vivo, current knowledge concerning the mechanisms in vivo and challenges in translational research on probiotics. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of probiotics, the effect of probiotic mixtures versus single strains, the effect of formulation of probiotics and the fate of ingested probiotics should help to clarify the value of immune assays as selection criteria for probiotics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
JournalBeneficial Microbes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013



  • placebo-controlled trial
  • lactic-acid bacteria
  • regulatory t-cells
  • blood mononuclear-cells
  • intestinal epithelial-cells
  • irritable-bowel-syndrome
  • influenza-virus infection
  • randomized controlled-trial
  • tight junction proteins
  • host-microbiota dialog

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