A strain of bacteria present in many popular probiotic products has been shown to be beneficial for a range of health issues, and now researchers may have discovered the mechanism of action that leads to these positive effects. The study results are outlined in an article published in the journal mBio.

Claire M. Fraser, PhD, of the University of Maryland, and colleagues set out to assess the effect of the bacterial strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) on a group of 12 elderly subjects. The participants ingested LGG twice a day for 28 days and their gut microbiome was analyzed at baseline and at the end of the study period. The scientists used an innovative method for enumerating gut bacteria, known as metagenomic analysis, which allows for a more comprehensive view of the microbiota activity in the intestines.

RELATED: Grape Polyphenols May Protect Against Metabolic Sx Via Gut

Ingesting of LGG led to an increase in several genes that foster several species of gut microbiota Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus. LGG appears to act as a facilitator in the modification of the activity of other gut microbiota that have been shown to have a range of benefits in humans, and may also have direct effects itself.

While it was previously believed that the mechanism of action for LGG and other probiotics was directly on the host, these new findings suggest that some may affect the overall ecosystem of the gut as an interconnected ecosystem instead of a series of microbiota. Modifying the behavior of microbes already in the gut may be just as important as adding any single species to this population, Dr. Fraser adds.

For more information visit UMaryland.edu.