Illustration.

Preclinical research

Lactobacillus reuteri is polite and friendly, like a good neighbour

Professor James Versalovic at Baylor College of Medicine in Huston, Texas, became interested in Lactobacillus reuteri already back in 2000. Here, he talks about his research.

What is it that makes Lactobacillus reuteri so interesting?
Lactobacillus reuteri is fascinating because it’s a bacterium that occurs naturally in many species of birds and mammals, such as humans. It is an adept colonizer that seems to be friendly to its microbial neighbours. Like a polite and kind friend, Lactobacillus reuteri maintains the conversations between host and bacteria without invading the host or dominating other microorganisms. In short, Lactobacillus reuteri is a good neighbor, never a bully.

What is the most exciting discovery about Lactobacillus reuteri that you and your team have made?
It was the discovery that Lactobacillus reuteri generates histamine and that this histamine can suppress intestinal inflammation in mammals.

What are you and your team focusing on at the moment?
We are studying metabolism via probiotic bacteria and, for example, how histamine can modulate the functions of the immune and nervous systems.

What answers do you hope to find in the future?
We hope to be able to select strains of Lactobacillus reuteri that supress chronic gut inflammation. We also want to find out if it is possible to use a combination of dietary ingredients to improve the effectiveness of probiotics, such as ­Lactobacillus reuteri, to promote health.

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