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Mediators Inflamm. 2013;2013:237921. doi: 10.1155/2013/237921. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

The role of cell surface architecture of lactobacilli in host-microbe interactions in the gastrointestinal tract.

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Food Nutrition & Health Team, Food & Bio-Based Products Group, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.


Lactobacillus species can exert health promoting effects in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) through many mechanisms, which include pathogen inhibition, maintenance of microbial balance, immunomodulation, and enhancement of the epithelial barrier function. Different species of the genus Lactobacillus can evoke different responses in the host, and not all strains of the same species can be considered beneficial. Strain variations may be related to diversity of the cell surface architecture of lactobacilli and the bacteria's ability to express certain surface components or secrete specific compounds in response to the host environment. Lactobacilli are known to modify their surface structures in response to stress factors such as bile and low pH, and these adaptations may help their survival in the face of harsh environmental conditions encountered in the GIT. In recent years, multiple cell surface-associated molecules have been implicated in the adherence of lactobacilli to the GIT lining, immunomodulation, and protective effects on intestinal epithelial barrier function. Identification of the relevant bacterial ligands and their host receptors is imperative for a better understanding of the mechanisms through which lactobacilli exert their beneficial effects on human health.

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