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J Dairy Sci. 1999 Dec;82(12):2530-5.

Screening of lactic acid bacteria for bile salt hydrolase activity.

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Snow Brand European Research Laboratories b.v., Groningen, The Netherlands.


Bile salt hydrolysis is an important metabolic reaction in the bile salt metabolism of mammals. This reaction has a facilitating effect for bile salt excretion but can also be involved in various illnesses. In recent years interest has increased to use bile salt hydrolysis to influence the cholesterol metabolism of humans and farm animals. To understand the distribution and range of bile salt hydrolase activity in lactic acid bacteria, we screened more than 300 strains of the genera Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and the species Lactococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Streptococcus thermophilus. Results obtained for 273 strains showed that bile salt hydrolase activity is common in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus but absent in L. lactis, Leu. mesenteroides, and S. thermophilus. Nearly all bifidobacteria species and strains have bile salt hydrolase activity, whereas this activity can only be found in selected species of lactobacilli. A strong correlation can be observed between the habitat of a genus or species and the presence of bile salt hydrolase activity. Most often bile salt hydrolase activity is found in strains that have been isolated from the intestines or from feces from mammals--an environment rich in conjugated and unconjugated bile acids. Strains and species from other habitats like milk or vegetables--environments from which bile salts are absent--do normally not have bile salt hydrolase activity. In two independent assays, we established that bile salt hydrolase activity in bifidobacteria is, in general, much higher than in lactobacilli.

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