Wageningen University Logo Probiotic bacteria drinks are generally regarded beneficial for the human body. Known to decrease fat absorption, the bacteria is claimed to alter the activity of the genes in the small intestine. Scientists have seemingly discovered cellular reactions in the mucosa of the humane intestine after consuming drinks with probiotics.

The study was conducted on seven healthy volunteers who were made to drink three different types of probiotic bacteria. Each drink was loaded with ten billion bacteria. The experts then took biopsies from the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum) after six hours of consumption for genetic research. With the help of an endoscope brought into the mouth and stomach, authors were able to take biopsies of study participants.

Michiel Kleerebezem of Wageningen UR affirmed, “Probiotics cause a local reaction in the mucosa of the small intestines. These effects are similar to the effects of components that the pharmaceutical industry applies to medicines, but less strong”.

The participants had to drink all three priobiotic bacteria drinks or a sports drink without bacteria (placebo) in a time period of two weeks. It was mentioned that the volunteers and the physicians were both unaware about the type of drink consumed at a particular time. During the genetic research of the mucosa biopsies, investigators noted modifications in the activity of hundreds of genes after drinking the bacteria.

The discovered molecular pathways appear very much alike the pathways that certain medicines cause in the human body. So it may resemble medicines influencing the immune system in a positive manner and medicines lowering the blood pressure. Having laid hands on its accurate resemblance to medicines, new areas can probably be found for the application of probiotics.

The study was published in the American journal PNAS carried out by Maastricht University, NIZO Food Research, UMC St Radboud and Wageningen UR and on the website of PNAS.