Lactocepin, an Enzyme produced by Probiotic Bacteria protects against IBD

Probiotic bacteria have earned praise from many physicians for their role in preventing intestinal infections and inflammations. However, their mechanism of action was not very clear. But now, a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Cell Host and Microbe has unearthed the biochemical mechanism which confers this protective ability to these bacteria. According to a team of biologists and nutrition scientist from the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) who carried out this particular study, the probiotic lactic acid bacteria produce an enzyme called as lactocepin which hampers the inflammatory mediators in diseased tissue. The discovery of lactocepin may help in devising newer methods of treating inflammatory bowel disease.

The scientists carried out their experiment on laboratory mice. They found that lactocepin, produced by Lactobacillus paracasei, interrupts inflammatory processes which can lead to the development of IBD. This is because it degrades chemokines, the messengers needed to guide defense cells to the site of infection. Chemokines e.g. IP-10, prevent tissue healing in chronic inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The researchers observed that lactocepin selectively degraded secreted, cell-associated and tissue distributed IP-10. This, in turn, reduced the lymphocyte recruitment to the site of infection after intra-peritoneal injection in a case of ileitis. Apart from Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei was also found to produce lactocepin and degrade IP-10. A bacterial mixture of different probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus, was able to reduce inflammation in patients suffering from IBD.

Scientists have been familiar with lactocepin. However, its role in specific degradation of inflammatory mediators like chemokines was previously unknown. In the light of its new role, researchers feel that it is possible to find new approaches for the prevention and treatment of IBD. The added advantage of this form of therapy would be that it would be targeted to a specific area and devoid of any side effects.

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Date: 
Sunday, April 29, 2012
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