Purdue University Logo Modified probiotics or beneficial bacteria are well-known for their positive influences on the digestive system. Adding one more feather to their hat, Purdue University scientists have revealed that probiotics could someday reduce the risk for Listeria infections among people with vulnerable immune systems for the same.

The team found that that the listeria protein which enables the circulation of bacteria through the intestinal cells and into the blood could also impede the invasion process if combined with a probiotic. When listeria enters the bloodstream, even small amount of it apparently causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, confusions, stiff neck, muscles aches and convulsions in case it reaches the nervous system. In pregnant women, such infections are known to cause stillbirth and abortion too.

“Based on the research, it looks very promising that we would get a significant reduction in Listeria infections,” cited Arun Bhunia, a professor of food science.

According to scientists, probiotics singlehandedly could not treat listeria infections. But, as soon the Listeria adhesion protein was linked to the probiotic Lactobacillus paracasei, the listeria invasion into the intestine seemed to be reduced by 46%. The decrease in the proportion of bacteria is expected to be sufficient to prevent Listeria infections in a person with susceptible immunity. This combo of probiotic and protein interacts with the heat shock protein at surface level of intestinal cells after which the probiotic gets attached to the cells and the throng of Listeria escapes out.

Since Listeria cannot locate a place to get attached to, it does not invade the intestinal cells. The investigators are hopeful of the development of a pill or a probiotic drink to prevent Listeria affliction in at-risk patients. The report is published in the journal, PLoS One.