One of the working mechanisms of probiotic bacteria is their ability to compete with pathogens. To define the probiotic properties of seven Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) strains, we tested them for survival in simulated gastro-intestinal conditions, antimicrobial activities, co-aggregative abilities, and interferences studies against five human intestinal pathogens (Salmonella enteritidis ATCC 13076, Listeria monocytogenes ATCC 7644, Escherichia coli O157: H7 ATCC 35150, Cronobacter sakazakii ATCC 29544 and Campylobacter jejuni ATCC 33291).
The LAB strains were able to survive the stomach simulated conditions, and varied in their abilities to survive the small intestinal-simulated conditions. The strains showed antibiotic susceptibility profiles with values equal or below the breakpoints set by the European Food and Safety Authority. The LAB cell-free cultures supernatants showed antimicrobial activities, with inhibition zones ranging from 10.0 to 17.2 mm. All the LAB strains showed moderate auto-aggregation abilities while the greatest co-aggregation abilities were observed for Bifidobacterium bifidum W23, Lactobacillus plantarum W21 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus W71. The individual LAB strains showed strain-specific abilities to reduce the invasion of intestinal pathogens in an interference model with Caco-2 cells. Increased invasion inhibition was found when different combinations of LAB strains were used in the interference tests.
The LAB strains examined in this study may protect the intestinal epithelium through a series of barriers (antimicrobial activity, co-aggregation with pathogens, adherence) and interference mechanisms. Consequently, these LAB strains may be considered candidates for prophylactic use to prevent intestinal infections.