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Understanding the role of Lactobacillus acidophilus

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23 Jun 2021

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a species of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB degrade carbohydrate to produce lactic acid, which has antimicrobial properties. Most LAB organisms are generally regarded as safe (GRAS). Since thousands of years human used LAB in the fermentation process and preservation of foods and eaten. Some other studies of LAB have shown that some LAB species provide benefits to the host and therefore considered probiotic.

The Most probiotic species have shown resistance towards bile salts, acids, and enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract and adhere to the intestinal lining to colonies the human gastrointestinal tract [1].

L. acidophilusis sometimes used to prevent or treat several health conditions, including:


1. Acne

Although not many studies have been conducted on the effect of pro- and prebiotics in acne, a number of them suggest a potential preventive role of pro- and prebiotics on acne thereby mediating its symptoms. More specifically, in a study utilizing a mixture of probiotics (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and L. delbrueckii), the side effects of minocycline administration (an antibiotic used for the treatment of Acne Vulgaris) were reduced while still being effective in exerting a synergistic anti-inflammatory effect. These results suggest a potential use of the probiotic mixture as an alternative treatment option against A. Vulgaris in addition to being capable of reducing adverse side effects after chronic systemic antibiotic use. Acne is enhance in the presence of the bacterium P. acnes. On the other hand, S. epidermidis is naturally found on skin and has been shown to antagonize Propionibacterium acnes thus highlighting its therapeutic potential against acne. In another study, the therapeutic role of Enterococcus faecalis SL-5 on acne was also evaluated with results demonstrating that bacteriocin (CBT SL-5; an antimicrobial compound produced by E. faecalis) was capable of reducing inflammation suggesting the use of E. faecalis as an alternative approach to acne therapy thereby avoiding the extensive use of antibiotics.

Finally, despite the lack of literature on the effect of prebiotics to skin disease, konjac glucomannan hydrolysates (GMH) have also been shown to inhibit A. Vulgaris and P. acnes by stimulating the growth of probiotic microorganisms including Lactobacilli. To this end, it is noteworthy that lactic acid bacteria show selectivity towards a mannose, a glucose substrate (found in GMH), because of the nature and accessibility of these sugars as carbon sources.


2. Bacterial vaginosis

L. acidophilus can help treat and prevent bacterial vaginal infections. Vulvovaginal candidiasis and Vaginosis common type of vaginal infections. Lactobacilli are typically the most common bacteria in the vagina. They produce lactic acid in vagina which prevent the growth of other harmful bacteria. However, in case of certain vaginal disorders, other species of bacteria begin to outnumber lactobacilli. A number of studies have found taking L. acidophilus as a probiotic supplement can prevent and treat vaginal infection by increasing lactobacilli in the vagina. Eating yogurt that contains L. acidophilus may also prevent vaginal infections. Eating yogurt that contains L. acidophilus may also prevent vaginal infections.


3. Eczema

It may help prevent and reduce symptoms of Eczema; Eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed, resulting in itchiness and pain. The most common form is call atopic dermatitis. Evidence suggests that probiotics can reduce the symptoms of this inflammatory condition in both adults and children.

One study found that giving a mix of L. acidophilus and other probiotics to pregnant women and their infants during the first three months of life reduced the prevalence of eczema by 22% by the time the infants reached one year of age. A similar study found that L. acidophilus, in combination with traditional medical therapy, significantly improved atopic dermatitis symptoms in children.

However, not all studies have shown positive effects. A large study in 231 newborn children given L. acidophilus for the first six months of life found no beneficial effect in cases of atopic dermatosis. In fact, it increased sensitivity to allergens.


4. Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects up to one in five people in certain countries. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and unusual bowel movements. While little is known about the cause of IBS, some research suggests it might be caused by certain types of bacteria in the intestines. Therefore, a number of studies have examined whether probiotics can help improve its symptoms.

In a study in 60 people with functional bowel disorders including IBS, taking a combination of L. acidophilus and another probiotic for one to two months improved bloating. A similar study found that L. acidophilus alone also reduced abdominal pain in IBS patients. On the other hand, a study that examined a mixture of L. acidophilus and other probiotics found that it had no effect IBS symptoms.


5. Diarrhea

Diarrhea affects people for a number of reasons, including bacterial infections. It can be dangerous if it lasts a long time, as it results in fluid loss and, in some cases, dehydration. A number of studies have shown that probiotics like L. acidophilus may help prevent and reduce diarrhea that associated with various diseases. Evidence on the ability of L. acidophilus to treat acute diarrhea in children is mixed.

Some studies have shown a beneficial effect, while others have shown no effect. One meta-analysis involving more than 300 children found that L. acidophilus helped reduce diarrhea, but only in hospitalized children. What's more, when consumed in combination with another probiotic, L. acidophilus may help reduce diarrhea caused by radiotherapy in adult cancer patients. Similarly, it may help reduce diarrhea associated with antibiotics and a common infection called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.


6. Weight loss

It may promote weight loss. The bacteria in your intestines help control food digestion and a number of other bodily processes. Therefore, they influence your weight. There is some evidence that probiotics my help you lose weight, especially when multiple species are consume together. However, the evidence on L. acidophilus alone is unclear.

A recent study that combined the results of 17 human studies and over 60 animal studies found that some lactobacilli species led to weight loss, while others may have contributed to weight gain). It suggested that L. acidophilus was one of the species that led to weight gain. However, most of the studies were conduct in farm animals, not humans. Probiotics may be effective for weight loss, but more research is need to determine whether L. acidophilus, in particular, has a significant effect on weight in humans.


7. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain. TBI is a major cause of death and distribute worldwide. A WHO study that two type of TBI estimated that 70–90% of patients suffer a mild TBI and 10-30% of patients suffer a severe TBI [2]. TBI can lead to several physiologic complications including gastrointestinal dysfunction [3], intestinal contractile activity, which is associated with disturbances in food in- take and inadequate nutrition [4].

The recent study Lactobacillus acidophilus efficiently improved the contractile properties of intestinal smooth muscle, which were impair by TBI. PKC/MLCK/ MLC signaling pathway could play an important role in Lactobacillus acidophilus-mediated improvement of contractile properties of intestinal smooth muscle after TBI. These findings may provide a novel mechanistic basis for the application of Lactobacillus acidophilus in the treatment of TBI [5].

(PKC= Protein kinase C, MLCK= Myosin light chain kinase, MLC= Myosin light chain)


8. Reduce Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels may increase risk of cardio vesicular diseases. Probiotics can help reduce cholesterol levels and that L. acidophilus may be more effective than other types of probiotics [6]. Some of these studies have examined probiotics on their own, while others have used milk drinks fermented by probiotics.

One study found that taking L. acidophilus and another probiotic for six weeks significantly lowered total and LDL cholesterol, but also "good" HDL cholesterol. A similar six-week study found that L. acidophilus on its own had no effect. However, there is evidence that combining L. acidophilus with prebiotics, or indigestible carbs that help good bacteria grow, can help increase HDL cholesterol and lower blood sugar. This has been demonstrated in studies using probiotics and prebiotics, both as supplements and in fermented milk drinks. Furthermore, a number of other studies have shown that yogurt supplemented with L. acidophilus helped reduce cholesterol levels by up to 7% more than ordinary yogurt. This suggests that L. acidophilus — not another ingredient in the yogurt — was responsible for the beneficial effect.


9. Dental plaque and caries

According to some studies it is clear that the presence of Lactobacillus acidophilus DSM 20079 can cause reduction in the adherence of Streptococcal strains that it is probably related to interaction between bacteria. This adherence reduction was significantly stronger in the case of mutans streptococci while in the other study we showed that Lactobacillus fermentum reduced the adherence of non-mutans streptococci more than mutans streptococci without any significant difference [7].


10. Atherosclerosis

This study was done to investigate the effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus ATCC 4356 on the development of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-knockout (ApoE _/_ ) mice (8). Even when the administration of LAB was stop for 2 weeks, the bacterial levels remained high. This suggests that administration of L. acidophilus ATCC 4356 can protect against atherosclerosis by inhibiting intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Atherosclerosis is a chronic lipid-driven inflammatory disease of arteries. Studies suggest that a reduction in cholesterol absorption exerts an atheroprotective effect. This study found that supplementation with L. acidophilusATCC 4356 increased the counts of Lactobacilliand Bifidobacteria suggesting that L. acidophilus ATCC 4356 can successfully tolerate gastric acid and bile salts.

This work provided new insights into the anti-atherosclerotic properties of L. acidophilus ATCC 4356. Therefore, L. acidophilus ATCC 4356 can be a potential therapeutic material for preventing the progression of atherosclerosis.



1. Wang G, Yu Y, et al. Lactobacillus acidophilus JCM 1132 Strain and Its Mutant with Different Bacteriocin Producing Behavior Have Various in Situ Effects on the Gut Microbiota of Healthy Mice. Microorganisms 2019; 8(49).

2. Cassidy J D, Carroll L J, et al.Incidence, risk factors and prevention of mild traumatic brain injury: results of the WHO Collaborating Centre Task Force on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Incidence of mild traumatic brain injury. Suppl. 2004; 43: 28–60.

3. Tan M, Zhu JC, Yin HH. Enteral nutrition in patients with severe traumatic brain injury: Reasons for intolerance and medical management. British Journal of Neurosurgery 2011; 25(1): 2–8.

4. Rauch S, Krueger K, et al. Use of wireless motility capsule to determine gastric emptying and small intestinal transit times in critically ill trauma patients. Journal of Critical Care 2012; 27.

5. Sun B, Hu C, et al. The Effects of Lactobacillus acidophiluson the Intestinal Smooth Muscle Contraction through PKC/ MLCK/MLC Signaling Pathway in TBI Mouse Model. PLoS ONE2015; 10(6).

6. Cho Y A, Kim J. Effect of Probiotics on Blood Lipid Concentrations- A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Medicine 2014; 94(43).

7. Tahmourespour A, Kermanshahi R K. The effect of a probiotic strain (Lactobacillus acidophilus) on the plaque formation of oral Streptococci. Bosn J Basic Med Sci. 2011; 11(1): 37-40.

8. Huang Y, Wang J, et al. Lactobacillus acidophilus ATCC 4356 prevents atherosclerosis via inhibition of intestinal cholesterol absorption in apolipoprotein E-knockout mice. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2014;80(24): 7496–7504.

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