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Single bioreactor gastrointestinal tract simulator for study of survival of probiotic bacteria


The aim of the present study was to design an in vitro model system to evaluate the probiotic potential of food. A single bioreactor system—gastrointestinal tract simulator (GITS) was chosen for process simulation on account of its considerable simplicity compared to multi-vessel systems used in previous studies. The bioreactor was evaluated by studying the viability of four known probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5, Lactobacillus johnsonii NCC 533, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) as a function of their physiological state. L. acidophilus and L. johnsonii survived in GITS better when introduced at an early stationary or exponential phase compared to being previously stored for 2 weeks at 4 °C. These two species were more resistant to bile salts and survived better than L. casei and L. rhamnosus GG. The latter two species gave large losses (up to 6 log) in plate counts independent of growth state due to the bile. However, experiments with some commercial probiotic products containing Lb. GG bacteria showed much better survival compared with model food (modified deMan–Rogosa–Sharpe growth medium), thus demonstrating the influence of the food matrix on the viability of bacteria. The study demonstrated that GITS can be successfully used for evaluation of viability of probiotic bacteria and functionality of probiotic food.

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The financial support for this research was provided by the Enterprise Estonia project EU22704, Ministry of Education, Estonia, through the grant SF0142497s03 and Estonian Science Foundation grant G6715. Authors thank NESTEC for providing L. johnsonii NCC533 strain. We are also grateful to David Schryer for revising the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Toomas Paalme.

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Sumeri, I., Arike, L., Adamberg, K. et al. Single bioreactor gastrointestinal tract simulator for study of survival of probiotic bacteria. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 80, 317–324 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-008-1553-8

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  • Probiotics
  • GIT model
  • Bile salts
  • Survival