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Live Bifidobacterium Lactis Bacteria Blocks Toxic Effects of Wheat Gliadin 03/09/2009 - A team of researchers based in Finland recently demonstrated for the first time that B. lactis probiotic bacteria are capable of shielding epithelial cells from cellular damage caused by gliadin exposure.

The research team was made up of doctors K. Lindfors, T. Blomqvist, K. Juuti-Uusitalo, S. Stenman, J. Venäläinen, M. Mäki and K. Kaukinen. They are associated with the Paediatric Research Centre for the Medical School of the Finland’s University of Tampere, the Department of Peadiatrics, and the Department of Gastroenterology and Alimentary Tract Surgery at Tampere University Hospital, and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Finland’s University of Kuopio.    

In people with celiac disease, wheat gliadin causes serious intestinal symptoms and damages the small-bowel mucosa. Untreated, this can leave the individual at risk of developing various cancers and numerous associated conditions. Most all of this can be reversed or prevented if detected and treated early enough.

Currently, the only effective treatment for celiac disease is a strict life-long gluten-free diet. However, a 100% gluten-free diet is nearly impossible to maintain, with so many gluten-free products containing trace amounts of gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease face regular gluten contamination. Also because of this, acceptable alternatives are desirable.  

Earlier studies have indicated that probiotic bacteria might be used in sourdough fermentation to induce the hydrolysis of celiac toxic gluten in food manufacturing, and thereby benefit people with celiac disease.

Although several studies have addressed the ability of probiotic bacteria to detoxify gliadin after an extensive incubation period, the team found none that investigated whether various live probiotic bacteria can inhibit gliadin-induced toxic effects directly on epithelial cells.

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In this study the team set out to determine whether probiotics Lactobacillus fermentum or Bifidobacterium lactis might block the toxic effects of gliadin in intestinal cell culture conditions.

To assess the degree to which live probiotics were able to block peptic-tryptic digested gliadin-induced degradation of human colon cells Caco-2, the team measured epithelial permeability by transepithelial resistance, actin cytoskeleton arrangements by the extent of membrane ruffling and expression of tight junctional protein ZO-1.

B. lactis inhibited the gliadin-induced increase dose-dependently in epithelial permeability, and, at higher concentrations totally eliminated the gliadin-induced reduction in transepithelial resistance.

That is, B. lactis decreased or eliminated the compromise in cell-wall resistance caused by gliadin. This means that B. lactis overcame the mechanism that gives rise to the decreased cell resistance and the increased permeability that occurs during an adverse reaction to wheat gliadin.

The B. lactis strain also interfered with the creation of membrane ruffles in Caco-2 cells caused by gliadin exposure. Furthermore, it also shielded the tight junctions of Caco-2 cells from the toxic effects of gliadin, as shown by the way in which ZO-1 is expressed.

The researchers concluded that live B. lactis bacteria might achieve partial to full blockage of gliadin toxicity gluten/gliadin-induced damage in the small-intestinal mucosa of people with celiac disease, and that it merits further study concerning its potential as a dietary supplement to guard against any silent damage associated with accidental gluten-contamination in celiac disease.

Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 152: 552–558 welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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9 Responses:

Anna M.
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said this on
10 Mar 2009 8:09:09 AM PDT
Great report on breaking research that may provide some relief for those dealing with celiac disease. I will pass this along to my friend, who has been following a rigorous gluten-free diet since her diagnosis. It is an immense challenge for those with celiac disease to remove gluten from their diets, and this research on B. lactis inhibiting gliadin-induced damage is hopeful news indeed.

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said this on
10 Mar 2009 11:52:25 AM PDT
That's a very good news! Do you think that even they will be able to eat gluten food sometimes without damage?

Maria Elena Martinez
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said this on
01 Apr 2009 10:24:22 AM PDT
I want to cry with joy!

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said this on
08 Apr 2009 6:43:39 AM PDT
This is interesting, but could be taken to mean that prodigious intakes of Activia yogurt could make one immune to the effects of gluten. I know this is not what is meant, but I'm worried that some people who may currently be resisting the gluten free diet may take this as an excuse, with very bad long term results.

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said this on
16 Aug 2009 2:50:38 PM PDT
I do not believe this is an excuse to dive into gluten containing foods. However, with so much hidden "gluten" in processed foods it may help if you are in doubt of the safety of a food or as a prevention - "just in case" you've been exposed without knowing.
I plan on using B lactis for extra security. Thanks for the info.

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said this on
08 Dec 2009 10:02:51 PM PDT
I've been taking this bacteria in a product. It seems to help me a lot...I feel better and hope that it is really working!

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said this on
13 Mar 2011 11:11:41 PM PDT
So what's the follow-up on this? Anyone been taking B.Lactis successfully to fight effects of celiac?

Also, they measure bacteria quantities in units of cfu/ml (e.g. 1000000 cfu/ml). How does that translate into what's on the nutrition label? It sounds like a unit of concentration, not quantity.

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said this on
03 Dec 2011 10:27:04 AM PDT
cfu/mL simply translates to "colony forming units per mL". Each "colony forming unit" is basically one individual bacterium that has the potential of forming an individual colony when it divides. Anyway, its the standard way a scientist measures the total number of bacteria in a bacterial culture.
And yes, it is a unit of concentration that is used to obtain quantity. So, for example, 1000000 cfu/mL would mean that there are 1000000 cfu (bacteria) in one mL of the mixture containing the bacterial species. So if we had 10 mL of the stuff, there would be 10000000 bacteria in that 10 mL.

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said this on
04 Feb 2016 11:02:23 AM PDT
The researchers were very clear in the amount that needed to be taken to achieve the desired effect: "The two lowest concentrations (105 and 106 cfu/ml) of B. lactis were ineffective in inhibiting gliadin-induced membrane ruffle formation, while the highest concentration (107 cfu/ml) was significantly protective (P < 0·0005). B. lactis at a concentration of 107 cfu/ml was even more protective against gliadin-induced damage than L. fermentum at the same concentration, as only 25·7% of the cellular edge was covered by membrane ruffles, in contrast to 34·1% in L. fermentum-supplemented cells. Supplementation of the Caco-2 cell cultures with 107 cfu/ml of B. lactis was able to reduce the percentage of membrane ruffling to the level of the PT-BSA control (P = 0·5)."

Bottom Line: a minimum of 107 cfu/ml of B. lactis

Also, with the recent study from Columbia University (See NY Times from 2015/05/19) that concluded that a lot of probiotics contain gluten.

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