Screening of yeasts as probiotic based on capacities to colonize the gastrointestinal tract and to protect against enteropathogen challenge in mice
Probiotics are defined as viable microorganisms that exhibit a beneficial effect on the host's health when they are ingested. Two important criteria are used for selection of probiotic microorganisms: they must be able to survive in the gastrointestinal environment and to present at least one beneficial function (colonization resistance, immunomodulation or nutritional contribution).
Generally, in vitro assays demonstrating these properties were used to select probiotics but it is unclear if the data can be extrapolated to in vivo conditions. In the present work, twelve Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains isolated from different environments (insect association, tropical fruit, cheese and "aguardente" production) and pre-selected for in vitro resistance to simulated gastrointestinal conditions were inoculated in germ-free mice to evaluate their real capacity to colonize the mammal digestive tract. Using these data, one of the yeasts (S. cerevisiae 905) was selected and tested in gnotobiotic (GN) and conventional (CV) mice for its capacity to protect against oral challenge with two enteropathogenic bacteria (Salmonella Typhimurium and Clostridium difficile). The yeast reached populational levels potentially functional in the gastrointestinal portions where the enteropathogens tested act. No antagonism against either pathogenic bacterium by the yeast was observed in the digestive tract of GN mice but, after challenge with S. Typhimurium, mortality was lower and liver tissue was better preserved in CV animals treated with the yeast when compared with a control group (p<0.05). Histopathological results of intestines showed that the yeast also presented a good protective effect against oral challenge with C. difficile in GN mice (p<0.05). In conclusion, among the 12 S. cerevisiae tested, strain 905 showed the best characteristics to be used as a probiotic as demonstrated by survival capacity in the gastrointestinal tract and protective effect of animals during experimental infections.