Lactobacillus acidophilus

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Lactobacillus acidophilus
20101212 200110 LactobacillusAcidophilus.jpg
Lactobacillus acidophilus
Numbered ticks are 11 µm
Scientific classification
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Family: Lactobacillaceae
Genus: Lactobacillus
Species: L. acidophilus
Binomial name
Lactobacillus acidophilus
(Moro 1900)
Hansen & Mocquot 1970

Lactobacillus acidophilus (New Latin 'acid-loving milk-bacillus') is a species of gram positive bacteria in the genus Lactobacillus. L. acidophilus is a homofermentative, microaerophilic species, fermenting sugars into lactic acid, and grows readily at rather low pH values (below pH 5.0) and has an optimum growth temperature of around 37 °C (99 °F).[1] L. acidophilus occurs naturally in the human and animal gastrointestinal tract and mouth.[2] Some strains of L. acidophilus may be considered to have probiotic characteristics.[3] These strains are commercially used in many dairy products, sometimes together with Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus in the production of acidophilus-type yogurt. Its genome has been sequenced.[4]

Health effects[edit]

Some strains of L. acidophilus have been studied extensively for health effects. The Mayo Clinic publishes a list of disorders for which L. acidophilus has been tested, grading the evidence for each use from strong evidence of effectiveness, through unclear, down to strong evidence of ineffectiveness.[5] According to the list there is good (rather than strong) evidence supporting the use of L. acidophilus or yogurt enriched with it for the treatment of some vaginal infections; effectiveness for other conditions ranges from unclear to fair negative evidence.

Some L. acidophilus strains may be able to survive gastrointenstinal transit, being resistant to bile, low pH, and digestive enzymes. They may then be able to adhere to human epithelial cell lines and human intestinal mucus.[6][7]

A blend of bacterial strains including L. acidophilus NCFM decreased the incidence of pediatric diarrhea. L. acidophilus led to a significant decrease in levels of toxic amines in the blood of dialysis patients with small bowel bacterial overgrowth. At adequate daily feeding levels, L. acidophilus may facilitate lactose digestion in lactose-intolerant subjects.[8]

A University of Nebraska study found that feed supplemented with L. acidophilus L1 and fed to cattle resulted in a 61% reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7.[9] Research has indicated L. acidophilus may be helpful reducing serum cholesterol levels.[10]

Antibiotics taken orally will kill beneficial, as well as harmful, bacteria, including L. acidophilus.[citation needed] After a therapy that includes antibiotics, patients are occasionally instructed to take an L. acidophilus treatment in order to recolonize the gastrointestinal tract.[6] To that effect, L. acidophilus is often sold in health stores in pill or powder form as a nutritional supplement, as well as being available in many yogurts. A part of the claims in favor of such treatment refer to attaining a better digestion thanks to a recovered normal intestinal flora. L. acidophilus LA-5 produces bacteriocin CH5 that is both antibacterial and inhibitory against certain yeasts and molds and is effective against both Salmonella typhimurium and Campylobacter jejuni.[6] It has been shown to improve bowel regularity and has been shown to have a preventative effect against traveller's diarrhea, as well as antibiotic-related bowel issues.[6]

Because of its relation to gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), L. acidophilus LA-5 has been associated with positive effects on the immune system such as increased cytokine, phagocytic activity and antibody production, as well as phagocytosis of Salmonella, and L. acidophilus NCFM has even been shown to reduce incidence of symptoms of fever, cough and runny nose.[6] Anti-inflammatory effects have also been observed in people consuming L. acidophilus NCFM. Additionally L. acidophilus LA-5 has shown to inhibit growth of breast cancer cells, and positive effects on chemotherapy patients.[6] An improvement of lipid metabolism has also been linked to L. acidophilus LA-5.[6]

Animal studies of NCFM have indicated that it reduces intestinal pain by inducing u-opioid and canabinoid receptors in the intestines (of animals), but this effect has not been sufficiently shown in humans yet.[6]

L. acidophilus may produce vitamin K and lactase. Some strains may produce bacteriocins such as acidolin, acidophilin and lactocidin.[citation needed]

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that yogurt containing L. acidophilus L1 has the potential to reduce risk for coronary heart disease by 6–10% by reducing serum cholesterol concentration.[11] The Mayo Clinic lists use of L. acidophilus for heart disease among those "based on tradition or scientific theories" that "often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven."[5]

Uses for lactose intolerance[edit]

There are many fermented dairy products that use L. acidophilus including yogurt and some types of cheese. Sweet acidophilus milk is consumed by individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance or maldigestion, which occurs when enzymes (lactase) cannot break down lactose (milk sugar) in the intestine.[citation needed] Failure to digest lactose results in discomfort, cramps and diarrhea.[12] Some bacteria have been shown to improve lactose digestion by providing β-galactosidase, while some L. acidophilus strains have been linked to improvement in symptoms and indicators of lactose indigestion.[6]

Strains with described health effects[edit]

Strain Brandname Producer Proven effect in humans
Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 Nebraska Cultures[13]
Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5 Chr. Hansen
Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM DuPont Nutrition and Health

Vaginal microbiota[edit]

Lactobacillus acidophilus is part of the vaginal microbiota along with other species in the genus including Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus jensenii, and Lactobacillus iners.[4][14][15][16] In lab experiments, L. acidophilus seemed to decrease Candida albicans’ ability to adhere to vaginal epithelial cells; however, L. acidophilus’ role in preventing yeast infections is unclear because this species of Lactobacilli has also been found not to have a very strong ability to adhere to (and thereby colonize) the vaginal cells.[17]

Side effects[edit]

Although probiotics are generally safe, when they are used by oral administration there is a small risk of passage of viable bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract to the blood stream (bacteremia), which can cause adverse health consequences.[18] Some people, such as those with a compromised immune system, short bowel syndrome, central venous catheters, cardiac valve disease and premature infants, may be at higher risk for adverse events.[19] In children with lowered immune systems or who are already critically ill, consumption of probiotics may rarely cause bacteremia or fungemia, leading to sepsis, which is a potentially fatal disease.[20] Scant complaints of mild gastrointestinal discomfort or gas have been noted.[7]

Therapeutic applications[edit]

L. acidophilus is a constituent in VSL#3. This proprietary, standardized, formulation of live bacteria may be used in combination with conventional therapies to treat ulcerative colitis.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bâati, L. ̈L.; Fabre-Gea, C.; Auriol, D.; Blanc, P. J. (2000). "Study of the cryotolerance of Lactobacillus acidophilus: Effect of culture and freezing conditions on the viability and cellular protein levels". International Journal of Food Microbiology 59 (3): 241–247. doi:10.1016/S0168-1605(00)00361-5. PMID 11020044. 
  2. ^ "Bacteria Genomes – LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS". European Bioinformatics Institute. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  3. ^ Ljungh A, Wadström T (2006). "Lactic acid bacteria as probiotics". Curr Issues Intest Microbiol 7 (2): 73–89. PMID 16875422. 
  4. ^ a b Fijan, Sabina (2014). "Microorganisms with Claimed Probiotic Properties: An Overview of Recent Literature". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11 (5): 4745–4767. doi:10.3390/ijerph110504745. ISSN 1660-4601. 
  5. ^ a b "Mayo Clinic: Evidence - Lactobacillus acidophilus". Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yuan-Kun Lee (2009). Handbook of Probiotics (2nd ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 441–443. ISBN 978-0-470-13544-0. 
  7. ^ a b "Lactobacillus acidophilus". Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Consumer Version. Medline Plus. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  8. ^ Sanders ME, Klaenhammer TR (2001). "Invited review: the scientific basis of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM functionality as a probiotic". J Dairy Sci 84 (2): 319–331. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(01)74481-5. PMID 11233016. 
  9. ^ "Good bacteria look promising for reducing E. coli". Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  10. ^ Anderson J, Gilliland S (1999). "Effect of fermented milk (yogurt) containing Lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic humans" (PDF). J Am Coll Nutr 18 (1): 43–50. doi:10.1080/07315724.1999.10718826. PMID 10067658. 
  11. ^ "Effect of Fermented Milk (Yogurt) Containing Lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on Serum Cholesterol in Hypercholesterolemic Humans". Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  12. ^ de Roos N, Katan M (1 February 2000). "Effects of probiotic bacteria on diarrhea, lipid metabolism, and carcinogenesis: a review of papers published between 1988 and 1998". Am J Clin Nutr 71 (2): 405–11. PMID 10648252. 
  13. ^ "About us". Nebraska Cultures. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  14. ^ Ratner, Adam J.; Aagaard, Kjersti; Riehle, Kevin; Ma, Jun; Segata, Nicola; Mistretta, Toni-Ann; Coarfa, Cristian; Raza, Sabeen; Rosenbaum, Sean; Van den Veyver, Ignatia; Milosavljevic, Aleksandar; Gevers, Dirk; Huttenhower, Curtis; Petrosino, Joseph; Versalovic, James (2012). "A Metagenomic Approach to Characterization of the Vaginal Microbiome Signature in Pregnancy". PLoS ONE 7 (6): e36466. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036466. ISSN 1932-6203. 
  15. ^ Senok, Abiola C; Verstraelen, Hans; Temmerman, Marleen; Botta, Giuseppe A; Senok, Abiola C (2009). "Probiotics for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis". Cochrane Database Syst Rev: CD006289. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006289.pub2. PMID 19821358. 
  16. ^ Nardis, C.; Mastromarino, P.; Mosca, L. (September–October 2013). "Vaginal microbiota and viral sexually transmitted diseases". Annali di Igiene 25 (5): 443–56. doi:10.7416/ai.2013.1946. PMID 24048183. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  17. ^ Can Yogurt Prevent Yeast Infections?. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  18. ^ Durchschein F, Petritsch W, Hammer HF (2016). "Diet therapy for inflammatory bowel diseases: The established and the new.". World J Gastroenterol (Review) 22 (7): 2179–94. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i7.2179. PMC 4734995. PMID 26900283. 
  19. ^ Doron S, Snydman DR (2015). "Risk and safety of probiotics.". Clin Infect Dis (Review). 60 Suppl 2: S129–34. doi:10.1093/cid/civ085. PMC 4490230. PMID 25922398. 
  20. ^ Singhi SC, Kumar S (2016). "Probiotics in critically ill children.". F1000Res (Review) 5. doi:10.12688/f1000research.7630.1. PMC 4813632. PMID 27081478. 
  21. ^ Ghouri, Yezaz A; Richards, David M; Rahimi, Erik F; Krill, Joseph T; Jelinek, Katherine A; DuPont, Andrew W (9 December 2014). "Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics in inflammatory bowel disease". Clin Exp Gastroenterol. pp. 473–487. doi:10.2147/CEG.S27530. Retrieved 17 May 2016. 

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