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Pharmacol Res. 2011 May;63(5):366-76. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Probiotics and health: an evidence-based review.

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Microorganisms and Food Technologies Division, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


The intestinal microbiota is an ecosystem formed by a variety of ecological niches, made of several bacterial species and a very large amount of strains. The microbiota is in close contact with the intestinal mucosa or epithelial interface which is, after the respiratory area, the largest surface of the body, occupying approximately 250-400 m(2). The physiological activities of the microbiota are manifold and are just being unraveled. Based on the observations of the multiple roles played by the microbiota in health and disease, the notion of modifying it with appropriate formulations, i.e. probiotics, is being tested in several settings. This review summarizes the current knowledge on probiotics and discusses both limitations and acquired evidence to support their use in preventive and therapeutic medicine.

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