The PHAGE-2 study, led by scientists from Colorado State University and funded by Deerland Probiotics and Enzymes, investigated if the combination of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis strain BL04 and its bacteriophage cocktail (LH01-Myoviridae, LL5-Siphoviridae, T4D-Myoviridae, and LL12-Myoviridae) could impact gastrointestinal health in 66 healthy participants.
Results published in Nutrients indicated that the combination led to improvements in gastrointestinal inflammation compared to the group only receiving the probiotic.
In addition, the B. lactis with bacteriophages led to a larger increase in Lactobacillus and short-chain fatty acid-producing microbial taxa.
“There is growing interest in the incorporation of phages with probiotic dietary supplements,” explained the researchers. “Phages can target specific pro-inflammatory or pathogenic organisms in the gut and potentially enhance the GI benefits of the probiotics, although evidence for these effects in human trials is currently lacking.
“In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, we observed the effects of B. lactis BL04, with or without the E.coli-targeting phage mixture marketed as PreforPro, on gastrointestinal well-being and modulation of the gut microbiota.
“Participants who consumed B. lactis BL04 + PreforPro showed improvements in digestive symptoms related to GI inflammation and colon pain and had the highest percentage of individuals reporting overall reduced symptom severity.”
A prebiotic is defined as: “A substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit” (ISAPP 2017). The ingredients are typically fiber or starch-based components that “feed” the good bacteria in the gut.
Deerland describes PreforPro as a “novel prebiotic that supports the growth of healthy bacteria throughout the digestive tract through a mechanism that is not fiber, carbohydrate or starch‐based”. The ingredient reportedly destabilizes the cell wall of certain bad bacteria, resulting in the release of nutrients into the environment which can then be utilized by probiotics and the good bacteria of the GI tract.
Commenting on the findings of the new study, John Deaton, Deerland’s vice president of science and technology, said: “A lack of global changes to the microbiota (dysbiosis) in combination with specific modulation of certain taxa, like Lactobacillus, suggests that PreforPro displays prebiotic-like effects and may extend the GI benefits of consuming B. lactis or other probiotics.
“This study demonstrates the opportunity and capability of phages in the robust support of healthy microflora balance and the associated physiological benefits. Phages are clearly up-and-coming supplements in the rapidly burgeoning arena of microbiome support.”
The PHAGE-2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study included 66 people aged between 18 and 65. The participants were randomly divided into three groups: A placebo group; a probiotic only group (B. animalis BL04 at 1 billion CFU per day); or B. lactis BL04 (1 billion CFU per day) plus PreforPro (15mg per day).
After four weeks of intervention, the researchers reported that people in the combination group displayed improvements in self-reported GI inflammation symptoms, and a trend towards reduced colonic cramp discomfort.
In addition, a greater increase in the presence of Lactobacillus vs. placebo was recorded, while reductions in E. coli, Citrobacter, and Desulfovibrio were recorded. The latter two are associated with gut inflammation and GI disorders like IBS.
“The present study demonstrates that oral supplementation of B. lactis BL04 over the course of 4 weeks has the potential to improve stool consistency, and B. lactis BL04 with PreforPro can significantly improve some GI symptoms,” wrote the researchers.
“In addition, phage consumption did not significantly disrupt the gut microbial community but was associated with an increased relative abundance of some beneficial species, like Lactobacillus, and decreases in certain pro-inflammatory taxa.
“While we did not observe significant improvements in all aspects of GI well-being or stool consistency, the findings of this study indicate a low risk for oral supplementation with phages and suggest that probiotic taken with a phage cocktail may offer a safe solution for the management of occasional GI symptoms in healthy adults,” they concluded.
12(8): 2474, doi: 10.3390/nu12082474
“PHAGE-2 Study: Supplemental Bacteriophages Extend Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BL04 Benefits on Gut Health and Microbiota”
Authors: D.S. Grubb et al.