, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 227-237
Date: 29 Sep 2012

Immune Modulation Capability of Exopolysaccharides Synthesised by Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria

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During recent years, the exopolysaccharides (EPS) produced by some strains of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria have attracted the attention of researchers, mainly due to their potential technological applications. However, more recently, it has been observed that some of these EPS present immunomodulatory properties, which suggest a potential effect on human health. Whereas EPS from lactic acid bacteria have been studied in some detail, those of bifidobacteria largely remain uncharacterized in spite of the ubiquity of EPS genes in Bifidobacterium genomes. In this review, we have analysed the data collected in the literature about the potential immune-modulating capability of EPS produced by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. From this data analysis, as well as from results obtained in our group, a hypothesis relating the physicochemical characteristics of EPS with their immune modulation capability was highlighted. We propose that EPS having negative charge and/or small size (molecular weight) are able to act as mild stimulators of immune cells, whereas those polymers non-charged and with a large size present a suppressive profile.