, 11:114,
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Date: 25 Aug 2012

Current status and emerging role of glutathione in food grade lactic acid bacteria

Abstract

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have taken centre stage in perspectives of modern fermented food industry and probiotic based therapeutics. These bacteria encounter various stress conditions during industrial processing or in the gastrointestinal environment. Such conditions are overcome by complex molecular assemblies capable of synthesizing and/or metabolizing molecules that play a specific role in stress adaptation. Thiols are important class of molecules which contribute towards stress management in cell. Glutathione, a low molecular weight thiol antioxidant distributed widely in eukaryotes and Gram negative organisms, is present sporadically in Gram positive bacteria. However, new insights on its occurrence and role in the latter group are coming to light. Some LAB and closely related Gram positive organisms are proposed to possess glutathione synthesis and/or utilization machinery. Also, supplementation of glutathione in food grade LAB is gaining attention for its role in stress protection and as a nutrient and sulfur source. Owing to the immense benefits of glutathione, its release by probiotic bacteria could also find important applications in health improvement. This review presents our current understanding about the status of glutathione and its role as an exogenously added molecule in food grade LAB and closely related organisms.