The human body contains many microorganisms, including a large number of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, which are referred to as the microbiota. Compared with the number of cells comprising the human body, that of the microbiota has been found to be much larger. The microbiome is defined as microorganisms and their genomes have been shown to contain about 100 times more genes than the human genome. The microbiota affects many vital functions in the human body. It contributes to regulation of the immune system, digestion of food, production of vitamins such as B12 and K, metabolization of xenobiotic materials, and many other tasks. Many factors affect the microbiota biodiversity, such as diet, medicines including antibiotics, relationships with the environment, pregnancy, and age. Studies have shown that the lack of microbiota diversity leads to many diseases like autoimmune diseases such as diabetes type I, rheumatism, muscular dystrophy, problems in blood coagulation due to lack of vitamin K, and disturbances in the transfer of nerve cells due to lack of vitamin B12, in addition to its involvement in a number of conditions such as cancer, memory disorders, depression, stress, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of this review is to summarize the latest studies discussing the relationship between the microbiota and the human body in health and diseases.
The gut microbiota has a great impact on the host immune systems. Recent evidence suggests that the maternal gut microbiota affects the immune systems of offspring. Metabolites produced by the gut microbiota play crucial roles in the immune system. Previous studies have also revealed that metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligands are involved in host health and diseases. Great progress has been made in understanding the roles of diet-derived SCFAs in the offspring’s immune system. The findings to date raise the possibility that maternal dietary soluble fiber intake may play a role in the development of the offspring’s systemic immune response. In this review, we summarize the present knowledge and discuss future therapeutic possibilities for using dietary soluble fiber intake against inflammatory diseases.
Recently many researchers have revealed that certain lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have beneficial effects on the immune system. Understanding the mechanisms of how certain LAB induce immunomodulatory functions is important for the development of food ingredients that improve our health. Lactobacillus plantarum OLL2712 has been shown to induce production of interleukin (IL)-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, by murine in vitro-induced dendritic cells (DCs) and peritoneal macrophages. However, it is probable that in vitro-induced DCs have different properties compared with intestinal DCs, and the effects of the LAB on intestinal DCs are not fully understood. In this report, we investigated whether L. plantarum OLL2712 had efficacy for inducing intestinal DCs to produce IL-10 in vitro and whether oral administration of the bacteria induced the same effect. Co-culture of L. plantarum OLL2712 with purified DCs from the mesenteric lymph node (MLN) or Peyer’s patch (PP) elevated IL-10 mRNA expression and protein production by both kinds of DCs. Addition of the LAB enhanced IL-10 production by T cells during antigen-specific responses in co-culture of MLN or PP DCs and T cells. Oral administration of L. plantarum OLL2712 for 6 days increased IL-10 gene expression in MLN DCs, and upregulated IL-10 gene expression in PP DCs was observed 12 hr after oral administration of the LAB. Our results suggested that L. plantarum OLL2712 could modulate immune responses by enhancing IL-10 production from intestinal DCs.
The facultative anaerobic bacterium Lactobacillus casei IGM394 is used as a host for drug delivery systems, and it exhibits the same growth rate under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. L. casei strains carry several genes that facilitate oxygen and reactive oxygen species (ROS) tolerance in their genomes, but their complete functions have not been uncovered. To clarify the oxygen and ROS tolerance mechanisms of L. casei IGM394, we constructed 23 deficient mutants targeting genes that confer oxidative stress resistance. Significantly decreased growth and high H2O2 accumulation were observed in the NADH peroxidase gene-mutated strain (Δnpr) compared with the findings in the wild type. The H2O2 degradation capacity of Δnpr revealed that NADH peroxidase is a major H2O2-degrading enzyme in L. casei IGM394. Interestingly, ΔohrR, a mutant deficient in the organic hydroperoxide (OhrA) repressor, exhibited higher H2O2 resistance than the wild-type strain. Increased Npr expression and H2O2 degradation ability were observed in ΔohrR, further supporting the importance of OhrA to ROS tolerance mechanisms. The other mutants did not exhibit altered growth rates, although some mutants had higher growth in the presence of oxygen. From these results, it is presumed that L. casei IGM394 has multiple oxygen tolerance mechanisms and that the loss of a single gene does not alter the growth rate because of the presence of complementary mechanisms. Contrarily, the H2O2 tolerance mechanism is solely dependent on NADH peroxidase in L. casei IGM394.
In the present study, we investigated the glucose-decreasing action of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The finding of this study could be helpful for people in controlling their blood sugar levels. The LAB candidate was isolated from a Japanese fermented food and identified as Pediococcus pentosaceus by an analysis of its genome sequence. Postprandial blood glucose elevation was investigated using oral starch tolerance tests in mice. Normal mice were fed starch and lyophilized cells of P. pentosaceus QU 19 at the same time. Even without pre-administration of P. pentosaceus QU 19, elevation of the blood glucose level was significantly suppressed by the intake of P. pentosaceus QU 19 at the same time as oral administration of starch. According to the results for its survival in simulated digestive juice and the reduction of blood glucose level in mice, P. pentosaceus QU 19 has potential hypoglycemic activity. In vitro measurements revealed that the glucose-decreasing action of P. pentosaceus QU 19 is probably caused by the glucose assimilation of the strain, not the inhibition of carbohydrate-splitting enzymes which has been reported for other LABs previously. These findings indicate that specific strains of LAB, especially P. pentosaceus QU 19, and foods fermented by LAB may be beneficial for people who must manage glucose ingestion.