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Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains are ubiquitous in fermented foods, and in the human body where they are commensals naturally present in the normal microbiota composition of gut, vagina and skin. However, in some cases, Lactobacillus spp. have been implicated in bacteremia. The aim of the study was to examine the genomic and immunological properties of 16 clinical blood isolates of L. rhamnosus and to compare them to the well-studied L. rhamnosus probiotic strain GG. Blood cultures from bacteremic patients were collected at the Helsinki University Hospital laboratory in 2005-2011 and L. rhamnosus strains were isolated and characterized by genomic sequencing. The capacity of the L. rhamnosus strains to activate serum complement was studied using immunological assays for complement factor C3a and the terminal pathway complement complex (TCC). Binding of complement regulators factor H and C4bp was also determined using radioligand assays. Furthermore, the isolated strains were evaluated for their ability to aggregate platelets and to form biofilms in vitro. Genomic comparison between the clinical L. rhamnosus strains showed them to be clearly different from L. rhamnosus GG and to cluster in two distinct lineages. All L. rhamnosus strains activated complement in serum and none of them bound complement regulators. Four out of 16 clinical blood isolates induced platelet aggregation and/or formed more biofilms than L. rhamnosus GG, which did not display platelet aggregation activity nor showed strong biofilm formation. These findings suggest that clinical L. rhamnosus isolates show considerable heterogeneity but are clearly different from L. rhamnosus GG at the genomic level. All L. rhamnosus strains are still normally recognized by the human complement system.
Nissilä, E., Douillard, F. P., Ritari, J., Paulin, L., Järvinen, H. M., Rasinkangas, P., ... De Vos, W. M. (2017). Genotypic and phenotypic diversity of Lactobacillus rhamnosus clinical isolates, their comparison with strain GG and their recognition by complement system. PLoS ONE, 12(5), [e0176739]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176739