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Food Microbiol. 2007 Sep;24(6):559-70. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Antibiotic resistance in non-enterococcal lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.

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  • 1Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias (CSIC), Carretera de Infiesto s/n, 33300 Villaviciosa, Asturias, Spain.


Over the last 50 years, human life expectancy and quality of life have increased dramatically due to improvements in nutrition and the use of antibiotics in the fight against infectious diseases. However, the heyday of antibiotic treatment is on the wane due to the appearance and spread of resistance among harmful microorganisms. At present, there is great concern that commensal bacterial populations from food and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of humans and animals, such as lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria, could act as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes. Resistances could ultimately be transferred to human pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria hampering the treatment of infections. LAB species have traditionally been used as starter cultures in the production of fermented feed and foodstuffs. Further, LAB and bifidobacteria are normal inhabitants of the GIT where they are known to exert health-promoting effects, and selected strains are currently been used as probiotics. Antibiotic resistance genes carried by LAB and bifidobacteria can be transferred to human pathogenic bacteria either during food manufacture or during passage through the GIT. The aim of this review is to address well-stated and recent knowledge on antibiotic resistance in typical LAB and bifidobacteria species. Therefore, the commonest antibiotic resistance profiles, the distinction between intrinsic and atypical resistances, and some of the genetic determinants already discovered will all be discussed.

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