New scientific paradigms for probiotics and prebiotics
Reid, G., Sanders, M.E. , Gaskins, H.R., Gibson, G.R. , Mercenier, A. , Rastall, R., Roberfroid, M., Rowland, I., Cherbut, C. and Klaenhammer, T. (2003) New scientific paradigms for probiotics and prebiotics. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 37 (2). pp. 105-118. ISSN 0192-0790
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The inaugural meeting of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) was held May 3 to May 5 2002 in London, Ontario, Canada. A group of 63 academic and industrial scientists from around the world convened to discuss current issues in the science of probiotics and prebiotics. ISAPP is a non-profit organization comprised of international scientists whose intent is to strongly support and improve the levels of scientific integrity and due diligence associated with the study, use, and application of probiotics and prebiotics. In addition, ISAPP values its role in facilitating communication with the public and healthcare providers and among scientists in related fields on all topics pertinent to probiotics and prebiotics. It is anticipated that such efforts will lead to development of approaches and products that are optimally designed for the improvement of human and animal health and well being. This article is a summary of the discussions, conclusions, and recommendations made by 8 working groups convened during the first ISAPP workshop focusing on the topics of: definitions, intestinal flora, extra-intestinal sites, immune function, intestinal disease, cancer, genetics and genomics, and second generation prebiotics. Humans have evolved in symbiosis with an estimated 1014 resident microorganisms. However, as medicine has widely defined and explored the perpetrators of disease, including those of microbial origin, it has paid relatively little attention to the microbial cells that constitute the most abundant life forms associated with our body. Microbial metabolism in humans and animals constitutes an intense biochemical activity in the body, with profound repercussions for health and disease. As understanding of the human genome constantly expands, an important opportunity will arise to better determine the relationship between microbial populations within the body and host factors (including gender, genetic background, and nutrition) and the concomitant implications for health and improved quality of life. Combined human and microbial genetic studies will determine how such interactions can affect human health and longevity, which communication systems are used, and how they can be influenced to benefit the host. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.1 The probiotic concept dates back over 100 years, but only in recent times have the scientific knowledge and tools become available to properly evaluate their effects on normal health and well being, and their potential in preventing and treating disease. A similar situation exists for prebiotics, defined by this group as non-digestible substances that provide a beneficial physiological effect on the host by selectively stimulating the favorable growth or activity of a limited number of indigenous bacteria. Prebiotics function complementary to, and possibly synergistically with, probiotics. Numerous studies are providing insights into the growth and metabolic influence of these microbial nutrients on health. Today, the science behind the function of probiotics and prebiotics still requires more stringent deciphering both scientifically and mechanistically. The explosion of publications and interest in probiotics and prebiotics has resulted in a body of collective research that points toward great promise. However, this research is spread among such a diversity of organisms, delivery vehicles (foods, pills, and supplements), and potential health targets such that general conclusions cannot easily be made. Nevertheless, this situation is rapidly changing on a number of important fronts. With progress over the past decade on the genetics of lactic acid bacteria and the recent, 2,3 and pending, 4 release of complete genome sequences for major probiotic species, the field is now armed with detailed information and sophisticated microbiological and bioinformatic tools. Similarly, advances in biotechnology could yield new probiotics and prebiotics designed for enhanced or expanded functionality. The incorporation of genetic tools within a multidisciplinary scientific platform is expected to reveal the contributions of commensals, probiotics, and prebiotics to general health and well being and explicitly identify the mechanisms and corresponding host responses that provide the basis for their positive roles and associated claims. In terms of human suffering, the need for effective new approaches to prevent and treat disease is paramount. The need exists not only to alleviate the significant mortality and morbidity caused by intestinal diseases worldwide (especially diarrheal diseases in children), but also for infections at non-intestinal sites. This is especially worthy of pursuit in developing nations where mortality is too often the outcome of food and water borne infection. Inasmuch as probiotics and prebiotics are able to influence the populations or activities of commensal microflora, there is evidence that they can also play a role in mitigating some diseases. 5,6 Preliminary support that probiotics and prebiotics may be useful as intervention in conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergy, cancer (especially colorectal cancer of which 75% are associated with diet), vaginal and urinary tract infections in women, kidney stone disease, mineral absorption, and infections caused by Helicobacter pylori is emerging. Some metabolites of microbes in the gut may also impact systemic conditions ranging from coronary heart disease to cognitive function, suggesting the possibility that exogenously applied microbes in the form of probiotics, or alteration of gut microecology with prebiotics, may be useful interventions even in these apparently disparate conditions. Beyond these direct intervention targets, probiotic cultures can also serve in expanded roles as live vehicles to deliver biologic agents (vaccines, enzymes, and proteins) to targeted locations within the body. The economic impact of these disease conditions in terms of diagnosis, treatment, doctor and hospital visits, and time off work exceeds several hundred billion dollars. The quality of life impact is also of major concern. Probiotics and prebiotics offer plausible opportunities to reduce the morbidity associated with these conditions. The following addresses issues that emerged from 8 workshops (Definitions, Intestinal Flora, Extra-Intestinal Sites, Immune Function, Intestinal Disease, Cancer, Genomics, and Second Generation Prebiotics), reflecting the current scientific state of probiotics and prebiotics. This is not a comprehensive review, however the study emphasizes pivotal knowledge gaps, and recommendations are made as to the underlying scientific and multidisciplinary studies that will be required to advance our understanding of the roles and impact of prebiotics, probiotics, and the commensal microflora upon health and disease management.