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Monday 28th May 2018

Probiotics protect against listeria

22nd June 2007

A team of researchers in Ireland have found that the 'good bacteria' found in live yoghurt and other probiotic products may protect pregnant women against listeria infection.


Scientists at the the University College of Cork's Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, which was set up to investigate the beneficial roles of the bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans.

The team examined a range of beneficial bacteria, and found one specific probiotic--Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118--which was able to kill Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria can be fatal if ingested by women during pregnancy, but the probiotic provided 'significant protection' against the disease, according to the report published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. However, other lactobacillus bacteria did not offer the same protection.

"The results of the University College Cork work clearly demonstrate a role for bacteriocins in protecting the host against potentially lethal infections," the college said in a statement on its website.

It said the study was the first clearly to demonstrate a mechanism by which probiotic bacteria may act to help improve the health of consumers.

While listeria poses a major potential threat to preganant women and other high-risk groups, it is too rare to justify prophylactic antibiotic therapy.

"A probiotic taken during pregnancy could well provide protection against Listeria infection in a form which would be acceptable to expectant mothers," the statement said.

The study was carried out by PhD student Sinead Corr, with key contributions from Yin Li and Christian Riedel, under the supervision of the department of microbiology and the school of pharmacy.


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