The first to propose the use of probiotics for the purpose of health maintenance and disease prevention

Table 1. Organisms associated with probiotic activity




Others bacterial strains

Enterococci, non-pathogenic E. coli

Non bacterial organisms

Yeasts (Saccharomyces boulardii)

was Elie Metchnikoff, the Russian Nobel Prize winner, who at the turn of the last century suggested that high concentration of Lactobacilli in the intestinal flora was important for health and longevity in humans [9]. Probiotics are defined as "living organisms, which upon ingestion in certain numbers, exert health benefits beyond inherent basic nutrition" [10].

Bacteria associated with probiotic activity are most commonly Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Streptococci but other non-pathogenic bacteria such as some strains of Escherichia coli and non-bacterial organisms such as the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii have been used (Table 1). For clinical application probiotic strains must possess certain characteristics. They need to be resistant to acid and bile, and must have the ability to be metabolically active within the luminal flora, where, ideally, they should survive, but not persist in the long term. They should be antagonistic against pathogenic bacteria and, obviously, they must be safe for human use and should maintain their viability and beneficial properties during manufacturing processes [11].

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