Probiotics modulate the Bifidobacterium microbiota of elderly nursing home residents
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Gut Bifidobacterium microbiota of the elderly has been suggested to differ from that of adults, possibly promoting the risk of infections and gut barrier dysfunction. Specific probiotics may improve the gut barrier. In this randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study, 66 elders consumed a fermented oat drink containing probiotic Bifidobacterium longum 46 and B. longum 2C or a non-fermented placebo oat drink for 6 months. Faecal samples were collected before, during and after the intervention. Levels of faecal bifidobacteria were determined using species-specific quantitative PCR and plate counting. The Bifidobacterium levels in the elderly were high and the species composition diverse. Probiotic intervention increased the levels bifidobacteria significantly. Specifically, the levels of B. catenulatum, B. bifidum and B. breve were enhanced. Consumption of the fermented oat drink itself was also associated with certain changes in microbiota. In conclusion, Bifidobacterium microbiota of elderly subjects may be modulated by probiotic administration. In some healthy elderly populations, Bifidobacterium microbiota may be more abundant and diverse than previously suggested.