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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Jan;70(1):558-68.

Genotypic and phenotypic studies of murine intestinal lactobacilli: species differences in mice with and without colitis.

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Department of Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Lactobacilli represent components of the commensal mammalian gastrointestinal microbiota and are useful as probiotics, functional foods, and dairy products. This study includes systematic polyphasic analyses of murine intestinal Lactobacillus isolates and correlation of taxonomic findings with data from cytokine production assays. Lactobacilli were recovered from mice with microbiota-dependent colitis (interleukin-10 [IL-10]-deficient C57BL/6 mice) and from mice without colitis (Swiss Webster and inducible nitric oxide synthetase-deficient C57BL/6 mice). Polyphasic analyses were performed to elucidate taxonomic relationships among 88 reference and murine gastrointestinal lactobacilli. Genotypic tests included single-locus analyses (16S ribosomal DNA sequencing and 16S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer region PCR) and genomic DNA profiling (repetitive DNA element-based PCR), and phenotypic analyses encompassed more than 50 tests for carbohydrate utilization, enzyme production, and antimicrobial resistance. From 20 mice without colitis, six Lactobacillus species were recovered; the majority of the mice were colonized with L. reuteri or L. murinus (72% of isolates). In contrast, only, L. johnsonii was isolated from 14 IL-10-deficient mice. Using an in vitro assay, we screened murine isolates for their ability to inhibit tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) secretion by lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages. Interestingly, a subpopulation of lactobacilli recovered from mice without colitis displayed TNF-alpha inhibitory properties, whereas none of the L. johnsonii isolates from IL-10-deficient mice exhibited this effect. We propose that differences among intestinal Lactobacillus populations in mammals, combined with host genetic susceptibilities, may account partly for variations in host mucosal responses.

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