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Molecular analysis and mechanistic elucidation of the functionality of probiotics and prebiotics in the inhibition of pathogenic microorganisms to combat gastrointestinal disorders and to improve human health

Contract number : QLK1-2001-01179
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 1.636.484
EC contribution : € 1.310.600
Starting date : 01/01/2002
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Jürgen Lucas
Project website :
Prof. Dr ir Luc De Vuyst
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Research Group of Industrial Microbiology, Fermentation Technology and Downstream Processing
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels
Tel.: +32-2-6293245
Fax: +32-2-6292720
E-mail: ldvuyst @

Recently, much attention has been paid to the health-promoting properties of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Probiotics and prebiotics are the driving forces of the functional foods market. However, a major problem is that many of these health-promoting properties are still questioned. For instance, the fundamental basis of the inhibition of Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria - like the enterovirulent diarrheagenic Salmonellae, and Helicobacter pylori causing gastrointestinal disorders - by probiotic lactic acid bacteria has not been elucidated. This project will focus on the identification of the responsible compounds. In addition, the mechanism of the inhibition of Gram-negative pathogens by probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria will be studied using coculture models (simulated gut fermentations, human cell lines, and animal models). Clinical studies will be performed too.

  • to obtain a selection of probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria that display a clear inhibition of diarrheagenic Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria and Helicobacter pylori;
  • to identify the metabolite(s) responsible for the inhibition and/or killing of Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria;
  • to have the conditions and kinetics elucidated of the production of antimicrobials active towards Gram-negative pathogens and to predict the in vivo action;
  • to establish co-culture models (simulated gut fermentations, human cell lines, animal models) to study the interaction between inhibitory lactic acid bacterium strains and Gram-negative pathogens causing gastrointestinal disorders;
  • to have the selected probiotic lactic acid bacterium strains tested in clinical studies.
(expected) Results and achievements
  • A project culture collection of probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains together with characteristic data and inhibitory spectrum;
  • A molecular typing method for selected probiotic strains;
  • Identified compound(s) responsible for the inhibition of Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria;
  • The conditions of antimicrobial production in the gut environment;
  • Co-culture models (simulated gut fermentations, human cell line cultures, animal models) showing the inhibitory action by the probiotic strains.


Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale
INSERM Unité 510
Faculté de Pharmacie Paris XI
Rue Jean Batiste Clément
92296 Châtenay-Malabry
Agricultural University of Norway
Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology
Laboratory of Microbial Gene Technology
PO Box 5051
1432 Ås
Agricultural University of Athens
Department of Food Science and Technology
Iera Odos 75
11855 Athens
Hellenic Pasteur Institute
Laboratory of Bacteriology
127, Vas Sofias Avenue
115 21 Athens
Dexter Com Srl
Popa Rusu 9 Ap 6
PO Box 37-34
Beldem S.A.
Research & Development Laboratory
Rue Bourrie 12
5300 Andenne

Fifth Framework Programme

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