A probiotic colonization strategy to prevent infection

Antibiotics, while essential in many cases, can disrupt the indigenous gut microbiota and leave a patient susceptible to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. In this study, researchers wanted to find out the potential benefit of proactive treatment with probiotics before the administration of antibiotics.


To do that, mice with a previously abolished microbiota were given either a β-lactamase-producing anaerobe (i.e. the probiotic) or a saline solution. The β-lactamase enzymes, produced by some bacteria, inactivate β-lactam antibiotics, which are among the most widely used worldwide. After the treatment (with the probiotic strain, or the saline solution), the animals received 3 days of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, and were subsequently exposed to pathogens (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, in vivo, and Clostridium difficile, in vitro). Stool concentrations of Enterococcus and C. difficile were measured, and 16S rRNA analyses performed to evaluate the antibiotic effect. The results obtained showed that advance colonization with the β-lactamase-producing anaerobe rendered the ceftriaxone inactive in the gut, which allowed recovery of the normal microbiota and prevented growth of the pathogens.


The authors concluded that this colonization strategy could potentially prevent dangerous infections in hospitalized patients.



Stiefel U et al. (2014) Gastrointestinal Colonization with a Cephalosporinase-Producing Bacteroides Species Preserves Colonization Resistance against Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus and Clostridium difficile in Cephalosporin-Treated Mice Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 58(8) pp. 4535-4542. doi:10.1128/AAC.02782-14

Kristina Campbell
Kristina Campbell
Science writer Kristina Campbell (M.Sc.), from British Columbia (Canada), specializes in communicating about the gut microbiota, digestive health, and nutrition. Author of the best selling Well-Fed Microbiome Cookbook, her freelance work has appeared in publications around the world. Kristina joined the Gut Microbiota for Health publishing team in 2014.  Find her on: GoogleTwitter