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Benef Microbes. 2016;7(2):299-304. doi: 10.3920/BM2015.0047. Epub 2015 Dec 21.

In vitro evaluation of nutrients that selectively confer a competitive advantage to lactobacilli.

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1 Kimberly Clark Corporation, 2100 County Rd II, Neenah, WI 54946, USA.


An assay was developed that tested the ability of Lactobacillus acidophilus to outcompete a challenge of Escherichia coli in a mixed culture containing different test nutrients. Using this assay, addition of fructo-oligosaccharide to the media allowed L. acidophilus to outcompete a challenge of E. coli, whereas in a mixed culture without the prebiotic the trend was reversed. Growth curves generated for E. coli in a single culture showed that fructo-oligosaccharide did not affect growth, indicating that the carbohydrate was not toxic to E. coli. This indicates that fructo-oligosaccharides may increase the ability of beneficial microbes to outcompete a pathogenic challenge. These results were confirmed using a skin simulant model that incorporates growth of the organisms at an air-surface interface to mimic the vulvar environment. It is possible to use a co-culture assay as an in vitro screening tool to define nutrients that confer a competitive advantage to beneficial flora specific to the female urogenital tract.


competitive; fructo-oligosaccharides; growth; microflora; urogenital; vaginal

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