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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 Jan;63(1):56-64. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

Glycerol induces reuterin production and decreases Escherichia coli population in an in vitro model of colonic fermentation with immobilized human feces.

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  • 1Laboratory of Food Biotechnology, Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zentrum, LFV C 25.2, Zurich, Switzerland.


Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 is a probiotic strain that produces, in the presence of glycerol, reuterin, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial substance. This strain has been shown to prevent intestinal infections in vivo; however, its mechanisms of action, and more specifically whether reuterin production occurs within the intestinal tract, are not known. In this study, the effects of L. reuteri ATCC 55730 on intestinal microbiota and its capacity to secrete reuterin from glycerol in a novel in vitro colonic fermentation model were tested. Two reactors were inoculated with adult immobilized fecal microbiota and the effects of daily addition of L. reuteri into one of the reactors (c.10(8) CFU mL(-1)) without or with glycerol were tested on major bacterial populations and compared with addition of glycerol or reuterin alone. The addition of glycerol alone or with L. reuteri increased numbers of the Lactobacillus-Enterococcus group and decreased Escherichia coli. The addition of reuterin significantly and selectively decreased E. coli without affecting other bacterial populations. The observed decrease in E. coli concentration during the addition of glycerol (in presence or absence of L. reuteri) could be due to in situ reuterin production because 1,3-propanediol, a typical product of glycerol fermentation, was detected during the addition of glycerol.

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