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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Glycerol Supplementation Enhances L. reuteri's Protective Effect against S. Typhimurium Colonization in a 3-D Model of Colonic Epithelium

de Weirdt, Rosemarie; Crabbé, Aurélie; Roos, Stefan; Vollenweider, Sabine; Lacroix, Christophe; van Pijkeren, Jan Peter; Britton, Robert A.; Sarker, Shameema; Van de Wiele, Tom; Nickerson, Cheryl A.


The probiotic effects of Lactobacillus reuteri have been speculated to partly depend on its capacity to produce the antimicrobial substance reuterin during the reduction of glycerol in the gut. In this study, the potential of this process to protect human intestinal epithelial cells against infection with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was investigated. We used a three-dimensional (3-D) organotypic model of human colonic epithelium that was previously validated and applied to study interactions between S. Typhimurium and the intestinal epithelium that lead to enteric salmonellosis. Using this model system, we show that L. reuteri protects the intestinal cells against the early stages of Salmonella infection and that this effect is significantly increased when L. reuteri is stimulated to produce reuterin from glycerol. More specifically, the reuterin-containing ferment of L. reuteri caused a reduction in Salmonella adherence and invasion (1 log unit), and intracellular survival (2 log units). In contrast, the L. reuteri ferment without reuterin stimulated growth of the intracellular Salmonella population with 1 log unit. The short-term exposure to reuterin or the reuterin-containing ferment had no observed negative impact on intestinal epithelial cell health. However, long-term exposure (24 h) induced a complete loss of cell-cell contact within the epithelial aggregates and compromised cell viability. Collectively, these results shed light on a potential role for reuterin in inhibiting Salmonella-induced intestinal infections and may support the combined application of glycerol and L. reuteri. While future in vitro and in vivo studies of reuterin on intestinal health should fine-tune our understanding of the mechanistic effects, in particular in the presence of a complex gut microbiota, this the first report of a reuterin effect on the enteric infection process in any mammalian cell type.

Published in

2012, Volume: 7, number: 5, article number: e37116

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    UKÄ Subject classification

    Nutrition and Dietetics
    Food Science

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