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1.  Rifaximin Modulates the Vaginal Microbiome and Metabolome in Women Affected by Bacterial Vaginosis 
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal disorder characterized by the decrease of lactobacilli and overgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis and resident anaerobic vaginal bacteria. In the present work, the effects of rifaximin vaginal tablets on vaginal microbiota and metabolome of women affected by BV were investigated by combining quantitative PCR and a metabolomic approach based on 1H nuclear magnetic resonance. To highlight the general trends of the bacterial communities and metabolomic profiles in response to the antibiotic/placebo therapy, a multivariate statistical strategy was set up based on the trajectories traced by vaginal samples in a principal component analysis space. Our data demonstrated the efficacy of rifaximin in restoring a health-like condition in terms of both bacterial communities and metabolomic features. In particular, rifaximin treatment was significantly associated with an increase in the lactobacillus/BV-related bacteria ratio, as well as with an increase in lactic acid concentration and a decrease of a pool of metabolites typically produced by BV-related bacteria (acetic acid, succinate, short-chain fatty acids, and biogenic amines). Among the tested dosages of rifaximin (100 and 25 mg for 5 days and 100 mg for 2 days), 25 mg for 5 days was found to be the most effective.
doi:10.1128/AAC.02469-14
PMCID: PMC4068465  PMID: 24709255
2.  Gut Microbiome in Down Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112023.
Background
Premature aging seriously compromises the health status of Down Syndrome (DS) persons. Since human aging has been associated with a deterioration of the gut microbiota (GM)-host mutualism, here we investigated the composition of GM in DS.
Methods
The observational study presented involved 17 adult DS persons. We characterized the GM structure by 454 pyrosequencing of the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. DS microbiome was compared with that of age-matched healthy non-trisomic adults enrolled in the same geographic area.
Results and Conclusions
The dominant GM fraction of DS persons showed an overall mutualistic immune-modulatory layout, comparable to that of healthy controls. This makes GM a possible factor counteracting the genetic determined acceleration of immune senescence in DS persons. However, we also found detectable signatures specific for DS among subdominant GM components, such as the increase of Parasporobacterium and Sutterella. In particular, the abundance of this last microorganism significantly correlated with the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) total score, allowing us to hypothesize a possible role for this microbial genus in behavioral features in DS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112023
PMCID: PMC4227691  PMID: 25386941
3.  From lifetime to evolution: timescales of human gut microbiota adaptation 
Human beings harbor gut microbial communities that are essential to preserve human health. Molded by the human genome, the gut microbiota (GM) is an adaptive component of the human superorganisms that allows host adaptation at different timescales, optimizing host physiology from daily life to lifespan scales and human evolutionary history. The GM continuously changes from birth up to the most extreme limits of human life, reconfiguring its metagenomic layout in response to daily variations in diet or specific host physiological and immunological needs at different ages. On the other hand, the microbiota plasticity was strategic to face changes in lifestyle and dietary habits along the course of the recent evolutionary history, that has driven the passage from Paleolithic hunter-gathering societies to Neolithic agricultural farmers to modern Westernized societies.
doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00587
PMCID: PMC4219431  PMID: 25408692
gut microbiota; aging; environmental stimuli; co-evolution; biological adaptation
4.  The Three Genetics (Nuclear DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Gut Microbiome) of Longevity in Humans Considered as Metaorganisms 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:560340.
Usually the genetics of human longevity is restricted to the nuclear genome (nDNA). However it is well known that the nDNA interacts with a physically and functionally separated genome, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that, even if limited in length and number of genes encoded, plays a major role in the ageing process. The complex interplay between nDNA/mtDNA and the environment is most likely involved in phenomena such as ageing and longevity. To this scenario we have to add another level of complexity represented by the microbiota, that is, the whole set of bacteria present in the different part of our body with their whole set of genes. In particular, several studies investigated the role of gut microbiota (GM) modifications in ageing and longevity and an age-related GM signature was found. In this view, human being must be considered as “metaorganism” and a more holistic approach is necessary to grasp the complex dynamics of the interaction between the environment and nDNA-mtDNA-GM of the host during ageing. In this review, the relationship between the three genetics and human longevity is addressed to point out that a comprehensive view will allow the researchers to properly address the complex interactions that occur during human lifespan.
doi:10.1155/2014/560340
PMCID: PMC4017728  PMID: 24868529
5.  Transcriptomic clues to understand the growth of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in cheese 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:28.
Background
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a non-starter lactic acid bacterium that plays a significant role during cheese ripening, leading to the formation of flavor. In long-ripened cheeses it persists throughout the whole time of ripening due to its capacity to adapt to changing environmental conditions. The versatile adaptability of L. rhamnosus to different ecosystems has been associated with the capacity to use non-conventional energy sources, regulating different metabolic pathways. However, the molecular mechanisms allowing the growth of L. rhamnosus in the cheese dairy environment are still poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to identify genes potentially contributing to the growth ability of L. rhamnosus PR1019 in cheese-like medium (CB) using a transcriptomic approach, based on cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism (cDNA-AFLP) and quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qPCR).
Results
Using three primer combinations, a total of 89 and 98 transcript-derived fragments were obtained for L. rhamnosus PR1019 grown in commercial MRS medium and CB, respectively. The cDNA-AFLP results were validated on selected regulated genes by qPCR. In order to investigate the main adaptations to growth in a cheese-mimicking system, we focused on 20 transcripts over-expressed in CB with respect to MRS. It is worth noting the presence of transcripts involved in the degradation of pyruvate and ribose. Pyruvate is a intracellular metabolite that can be produced through different metabolic routes starting from the carbon sources present in cheese, and can be released in the cheese matrix with the starter lysis. Similarly the ribonucleosides released with starter lysis could deliver ribose that represents a fermentable carbohydrate in environments, such as cheese, where free carbohydrates are lacking.
Both pyruvate degradation and ribose catabolism induce a metabolite flux toward acetate, coupled with ATP production via acetate kinase. Taking into account these considerations, we suggest that the energy produced through these pathways may concur to explain the great ability of L. rhamnosus PR1019 to grow on CB.
Conclusions
By a transcriptomic approach we identified a set of genes involved in alternative metabolic pathways in L. rhamnosus that could be responsible for L. rhamnosus growth in cheese during ripening.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-28
PMCID: PMC3928093  PMID: 24506811
Lactobacillus rhamnosus; Cheese; cDNA-amplified fragment length polymorphism; Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR
6.  Inflammation and colorectal cancer, when microbiota-host mutualism breaks 
Structural changes in the gut microbial community have been shown to accompany the progressive development of colorectal cancer. In this review we discuss recent hypotheses on the mechanisms involved in the bacteria-mediated carcinogenesis, as well as the triggering factors favoring the shift of the gut microbiota from a mutualistic to a pro-carcinogenic configuration. The possible role of inflammation, bacterial toxins and toxic microbiota metabolites in colorectal cancer onset is specifically discussed. On the other hand, the strategic role of inflammation as the keystone factor in driving microbiota to become carcinogenic is suggested. As a common outcome of different environmental and endogenous triggers, such as diet, aging, pathogen infection or genetic predisposition, inflammation can compromise the microbiota-host mutualism, forcing the increase of pathobionts at the expense of health-promoting groups, and allowing the microbiota to acquire an overall pro-inflammatory configuration. Consolidating inflammation in the gut, and favoring the bloom of toxigenic bacterial drivers, these changes in the gut microbial ecosystem have been suggested as pivotal in promoting carcinogenesis. In this context, it will become of primary importance to implement dietary or probiotics-based interventions aimed at preserving the microbiota-host mutualism along aging, counteracting deviations that favor a pro-carcinogenic microbiota asset.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i4.908
PMCID: PMC3921544  PMID: 24574765
Colorectal cancer; Inflammation; Gut microbiome; Co-abundance groups
7.  Serum profiling of healthy aging identifies phospho- and sphingolipid species as markers of human longevity 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(1):9-25.
As centenarians well represent the model of healthy aging, there are many important implications in revealing the underlying molecular mechanisms behind such successful aging. By combining NMR metabonomics and shot-gun lipidomics in serum we analyzed metabolome and lipidome composition of a group of centenarians with respect to elderly individuals. Specifically, NMR metabonomics profiling of serum revealed that centenarians are characterized by a metabolic phenotype distinct from that of elderly subjects, in particular regarding amino acids and lipid species. Shot- gun lipidomics approach displays unique changes in lipids biosynthesis in centenarians, with 41 differently abundant lipid species with respect to elderly subjects. These findings reveal phospho/sphingolipids as putative markers and biological modulators of healthy aging, in humans. Considering the particular actions of these metabolites, these data are suggestive of a better counteractive antioxidant capacity and a well-developed membrane lipid remodelling process in the healthy aging phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3927806  PMID: 24457528
Healthy Aging; metabolomics; lipidomics; biomarkers; inflammageing
8.  Novel Targets of Sulforaphane in Primary Cardiomyocytes Identified by Proteomic Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83283.
Cardiovascular diseases represent the main cause of mortality in the industrialized world and the identification of effective preventive strategies is of fundamental importance. Sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate from cruciferous vegetables, has been shown to up-regulate phase II enzymes in cardiomyocytes and counteract oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. Aim of the present study was the identification and characterization of novel sulforaphane targets in cardiomyocytes applying a proteomic approach. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry were used to generate protein profiles of primary neonatal rat cardiomyocytes treated and untreated with 5 µM sulforaphane for 1-48 h. According to image analysis, 64 protein spots were found as differentially expressed and their functional correlations were investigated using the MetaCore program. We mainly focused on 3 proteins: macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), CLP36 or Elfin, and glyoxalase 1, due to their possible involvement in cardioprotection. Validation of the time-dependent differential expression of these proteins was performed by western blotting. In particular, to gain insight into the cardioprotective role of the modulation of glyoxalase 1 by sulforaphane, further experiments were performed using methylglyoxal to mimic glycative stress. Sulforaphane was able to counteract methylglyoxal-induced apoptosis, ROS production, and glycative stress, likely through glyoxalase 1 up-regulation. In this study, we reported for the first time new molecular targets of sulforaphane, such as MIF, CLP36 and glyoxalase 1. In particular, we gave new insights into the anti-glycative role of sulforaphane in cardiomyocytes, confirming its pleiotropic behavior in counteracting cardiovascular diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083283
PMCID: PMC3859650  PMID: 24349480
9.  Functional metagenomic profiling of intestinal microbiome in extreme ageing 
Aging (Albany NY)  2013;5(12):902-912.
Age-related alterations in human gut microbiota composition have been thoroughly described, but a detailed functional description of the intestinal bacterial coding capacity is still missing. In order to elucidate the contribution of the gut metagenome to the complex mosaic of human longevity, we applied shotgun sequencing to total fecal bacterial DNA in a selection of samples belonging to a well-characterized human ageing cohort. The age-related trajectory of the human gut microbiome was characterized by loss of genes for shortchain fatty acid production and an overall decrease in the saccharolytic potential, while proteolytic functions were more abundant than in the intestinal metagenome of younger adults. This altered functional profile was associated with a relevant enrichment in “pathobionts”, i.e. opportunistic pro-inflammatory bacteria generally present in the adult gut ecosystem in low numbers. Finally, as a signature for long life we identified 116 microbial genes that significantly correlated with ageing. Collectively, our data emphasize the relationship between intestinal bacteria and human metabolism, by detailing the modifications in the gut microbiota as a consequence of and/or promoter of the physiological changes occurring in the human host upon ageing.
PMCID: PMC3883706  PMID: 24334635
centenarians; extreme-aging; gut microbiome
10.  The Enterocyte-Associated Intestinal Microbiota of Breast-Fed Infants and Adults Responds Differently to a TNF-α-Mediated Pro-Inflammatory Stimulus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81762.
Co-evolved as an integral component of our immune system, the gut microbiota provides specific immunological services at different ages, supporting the immune education during our infancy and sustaining a well-balanced immunological homeostasis during the course of our life. In order to figure out whether this involves differences in the microbial groups primarily interacting with the host immune system, we developed a non-invasive HT29 cell-based minimal model to fingerprint the enterocyte-associated microbiota fraction in infants and adults. After depicting the fecal microbial community of 12 breast-fed infants and 6 adults by 16S rDNA amplicon pools 454 pyrosequencing, their respective HT29 cell-associated gut microbiota fractions were characterized by the universal phylogenetic array platform HTF-Microbi.Array, both in the presence and absence of a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)-mediated pro-inflammatory stimulus. Our data revealed remarkable differences between the enterocyte-associated microbiota fractions in breast-fed infants and adults, being dominated by Bifidobacterium and Enterobacteriaceae the first and Bacteroides-Prevotella and Clostridium clusters IV and XIVa the second. While in adults TNF-α resulted in a profound impairment of the structure of the enterocyte-associated microbiota fraction, in infants it remained unaffected. Differently from the adult-type gut microbial community, the infant-type microbiota is structured to cope with inflammation, being co-evolved to prime the early immune response by means of transient inflammatory signals from gut microorganisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081762
PMCID: PMC3841132  PMID: 24303069
12.  Metabolic Signatures of Extreme Longevity in Northern Italian Centenarians Reveal a Complex Remodeling of Lipids, Amino Acids, and Gut Microbiota Metabolism 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e56564.
The aging phenotype in humans has been thoroughly studied but a detailed metabolic profiling capable of shading light on the underpinning biological processes of longevity is still missing. Here using a combined metabonomics approach compromising holistic 1H-NMR profiling and targeted MS approaches, we report for the first time the metabolic phenotype of longevity in a well characterized human aging cohort compromising mostly female centenarians, elderly, and young individuals. With increasing age, targeted MS profiling of blood serum displayed a marked decrease in tryptophan concentration, while an unique alteration of specific glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids are seen in the longevity phenotype. We hypothesized that the overall lipidome changes specific to longevity putatively reflect centenarians' unique capacity to adapt/respond to the accumulating oxidative and chronic inflammatory conditions characteristic of their extreme aging phenotype. Our data in centenarians support promotion of cellular detoxification mechanisms through specific modulation of the arachidonic acid metabolic cascade as we underpinned increased concentration of 8,9-EpETrE, suggesting enhanced cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme activity. Such effective mechanism might result in the activation of an anti-oxidative response, as displayed by decreased circulating levels of 9-HODE and 9-oxoODE, markers of lipid peroxidation and oxidative products of linoleic acid. Lastly, we also revealed that the longevity process deeply affects the structure and composition of the human gut microbiota as shown by the increased extrection of phenylacetylglutamine (PAG) and p-cresol sulfate (PCS) in urine of centenarians. Together, our novel approach in this representative Italian longevity cohort support the hypothesis that a complex remodeling of lipid, amino acid metabolism, and of gut microbiota functionality are key regulatory processes marking exceptional longevity in humans.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056564
PMCID: PMC3590212  PMID: 23483888
13.  A Natural-Like Synthetic Small Molecule Impairs Bcr-Abl Signaling Cascades and Induces Megakaryocyte Differentiation in Erythroleukemia Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57650.
Over the past years, we synthesized a series of new molecules that are hybrids of spirocyclic ketones as complexity-bearing cores with bi- and ter-phenyls as privileged fragments. Some of these newly-shaped small molecules showed antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic and differentiating activity in leukemia cell lines. In the present study, to investigate more in depth the mechanisms of action of these molecules, the protein expression profiles of K562 cells treated with or without the compounds IND_S1, MEL_T1, IND_S7 and MEL_S3 were analyzed using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry. Proteome comparisons revealed several differentially expressed proteins, mainly related to cellular metabolism, chaperone activity, cytoskeletal organization and RNA biogenesis. The major results were validated by Western blot and qPCR. To attempt integrating findings into a cellular signaling context, proteomic data were explored using MetaCore. Network analysis highlighted relevant relationships between the identified proteins and additional potential effectors. Notably, qPCR validation of central hubs showed that the compound MEL_S3 induced high mRNA levels of the transcriptional factors EGR1 and HNF4-alpha; the latter to our knowledge is reported here for the first time to be present in K562 cells. Consistently with the known EGR1 involvement in the regulation of differentiation along megakaryocyte lineage, MEL_S3-treated leukemia cells showed a marked expression of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa (CD41) and glycoprotein Ib (CD42), two important cell markers in megakaryocytic differentiation, together with morphological aspects of megakaryoblasts and megakaryocytes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057650
PMCID: PMC3584047  PMID: 23460890
14.  Efficacy of Rifaximin Vaginal Tablets in Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis: a Molecular Characterization of the Vaginal Microbiota 
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal disorder characterized by an alteration of the vaginal bacterial morphotypes, associated with sexually transmitted infections and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the impact of different doses of rifaximin vaginal tablets (100 mg/day for 5 days, 25 mg/day for 5 days, and 100 mg/day for 2 days) on the vaginal microbiota of 102 European patients with BV enrolled in a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. An integrated molecular approach based on quantitative PCR (qPCR) and PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) was used to investigate the effects of vaginal tablets containing the antibiotic. An increase in members of the genus Lactobacillus and a decrease in the BV-related bacterial groups after the antibiotic treatment were demonstrated by qPCR. PCR-DGGE profiles confirmed the capability of rifaximin to modulate the composition of the vaginal microbial communities and to reduce their complexity. This molecular analysis supported the clinical observation that rifaximin at 25 mg/day for 5 days represents an effective treatment to be used in future pivotal studies for the treatment of BV.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00061-12
PMCID: PMC3421556  PMID: 22585228
15.  Dietary supplementation with probiotics during late pregnancy: outcome on vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:236.
Background
The vaginal microbiota of healthy women consists of a wide variety of anaerobic and aerobic bacterial genera and species dominated by the genus Lactobacillus. The activity of lactobacilli helps to maintain the natural healthy balance of the vaginal microbiota. This role is particularly important during pregnancy because vaginal dismicrobism is one of the most important mechanisms for preterm birth and perinatal complications. In the present study, we characterized the impact of a dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3, a mixture of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus strains, on the vaginal microbiota and immunological profiles of healthy women during late pregnancy.
Results
An association between the oral intake of the probiotic VSL#3 and changes in the composition of the vaginal microbiota of pregnant women was revealed by PCR-DGGE population profiling. Despite no significant changes were found in the amounts of the principal vaginal bacterial populations in women administered with VSL#3, qPCR results suggested a potential role of the probiotic product in counteracting the decrease of Bifidobacterium and the increase of Atopobium, that occurred in control women during late pregnancy. The modulation of the vaginal microbiota was associated with significant changes in some vaginal cytokines. In particular, the decrease of the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4 and IL-10 was observed only in control women but not in women supplemented with VSL#3. In addition, the probiotic consumption induced the decrease of the pro-inflammatory chemokine Eotaxin, suggesting a potential anti-inflammatory effect on the vaginal immunity.
Conclusion
Dietary supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3 during the last trimester of pregnancy was associated to a modulation of the vaginal microbiota and cytokine secretion, with potential implications in preventing preterm birth.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01367470
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-236
PMCID: PMC3493352  PMID: 23078375
16.  Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Modulates the Dynamics of the Plasminogen-Mediated Early Interaction between Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and Human Enterocytes 
The capacity to intervene with the host plasminogen system has recently been considered an important component in the interaction process between Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and the human host. However, its significance in the bifidobacterial microecology within the human gastrointestinal tract is still an open question. Here we demonstrate that human plasminogen favors the B. animalis subsp. lactis BI07 adhesion to HT29 cells. Prompting the HT29 cell capacity to activate plasminogen, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) modulated the plasminogen-mediated bacterium-enterocyte interaction, reducing the bacterial adhesion to the enterocytes and enhancing migration to the luminal compartment.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07883-11
PMCID: PMC3302587  PMID: 22287006
17.  Potential Probiotic Kluyveromyces marxianus B0399 Modulates the Immune Response in Caco-2 Cells and Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and Impacts the Human Gut Microbiota in an In Vitro Colonic Model System 
Considering the increase in the consumption of yeasts as human probiotics, the aim of this study was to broadly investigate the beneficial properties of the lactic yeast Kluyveromyces marxianus (formerly Kluyveromyces fragilis) B0399. Several potential probiotic traits of K. marxianus B0399 were investigated by using in vitro assays, including adhesion and immune modulation, and the effect of the administration of 107 CFU/day of K. marxianus B0399 on the composition and metabolic activity of the human intestinal microbiota was investigated in a 3-stage continuous-culture system simulating the human colon. We demonstrated that this strain was highly adhesive to human enterocyte-like Caco-2 cells and modulated the immune response, inducing proinflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). In the presence of inflammatory stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), K. marxianus B0399 provoked decreases in the levels of production of proinflammatory cytokines in PBMCs and Caco-2 cells, thus ameliorating the inflammatory response. Furthermore, K. marxianus B0399 impacted the colonic microbiota, increasing the bifidobacterial concentration in the stages of the colonic model system simulating the proximal and transverse colon. The amounts of the short-chain fatty acids acetate and propionate also increased following yeast supplementation. Finally, K. marxianus B0399 was found to induce a decrease of the cytotoxic potential of the culture supernatant from the first stage of the colonic model system. The effects of K. marxianus B0399 on adhesion, immune function, and colonic microbiota demonstrate that this strain possesses a number of beneficial and strain-specific properties desirable for a microorganism considered for application as a probiotic.
doi:10.1128/AEM.06385-11
PMCID: PMC3272993  PMID: 22156412
18.  Unbalance of intestinal microbiota in atopic children 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:95.
Background
Playing a strategic role in the host immune function, the intestinal microbiota has been recently hypothesized to be involved in the etiology of atopy. In order to investigate the gastrointestinal microbial ecology of atopic disease, here we performed a pilot comparative molecular analysis of the faecal microbiota in atopic children and healthy controls.
Results
Nineteen atopic children and 12 healthy controls aged 4–14 years were enrolled. Stools were collected and the faecal microbiota was characterized by means of the already developed phylogenetic microarray platform, HTF-Microbi.Array, and quantitative PCR. The intestinal microbiota of atopic children showed a significant depletion in members of the Clostridium cluster IV, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and a corresponding increase of the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae.
Conclusion
Depleted in key immunomodulatory symbionts, the atopy-associated microbiota can represent an inflammogenic microbial consortium which can contribute to the severity of the disease. Our data open the way to the therapeutic manipulation of the intestinal microbiota in the treatment of atopy by means of pharmaceutical probiotics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-95
PMCID: PMC3404014  PMID: 22672413
19.  Relevance of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Plasminogen Binding Activity in the Human Gastrointestinal Microenvironment ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(19):7072-7076.
Human plasmin(ogen) is regarded as a component of the molecular cross talk between the probiotic species Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and the human host. However, up to now, only in vitro studies have been reported. Here, we demonstrate that the probiotic strain B. animalis subsp. lactis BI07 is capable of recruiting plasmin(ogen) present at physiological concentrations in crude extracts from human feces. Our results provide evidence that supports the significance of the B. lactis-plasmin(ogen) interaction in the human gastrointestinal tract.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00413-11
PMCID: PMC3187096  PMID: 21821753
20.  Ageing of the human metaorganism: the microbial counterpart 
Age  2011;34(1):247-267.
Human beings have been recently reviewed as ‘metaorganisms’ as a result of a close symbiotic relationship with the intestinal microbiota. This assumption imposes a more holistic view of the ageing process where dynamics of the interaction between environment, intestinal microbiota and host must be taken into consideration. Age-related physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as modification in lifestyle, nutritional behaviour, and functionality of the host immune system, inevitably affect the gut microbial ecosystem. Here we review the current knowledge of the changes occurring in the gut microbiota of old people, especially in the light of the most recent applications of the modern molecular characterisation techniques. The hypothetical involvement of the age-related gut microbiota unbalances in the inflamm-aging, and immunosenescence processes will also be discussed. Increasing evidence of the importance of the gut microbiota homeostasis for the host health has led to the consideration of medical/nutritional applications of this knowledge through the development of probiotic and prebiotic preparations specific for the aged population. The results of the few intervention trials reporting the use of pro/prebiotics in clinical conditions typical of the elderly will be critically reviewed.
doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9217-5
PMCID: PMC3260362  PMID: 21347607
Ageing; Intestinal microbiota; Probiotics; Prebiotics
21.  Oxalate-Degrading Activity in Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis: Impact of Acidic Conditions on the Transcriptional Levels of the Oxalyl Coenzyme A (CoA) Decarboxylase and Formyl-CoA Transferase Genes ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(16):5609-5620.
Oxalic acid occurs extensively in nature and plays diverse roles, especially in pathological processes. Due to its highly oxidizing effects, hyperabsorption or abnormal synthesis of oxalate can cause serious acute disorders in mammals and can be lethal in extreme cases. Intestinal oxalate-degrading bacteria could therefore be pivotal in maintaining oxalate homeostasis and reducing the risk of kidney stone development. In this study, the oxalate-degrading activities of 14 bifidobacterial strains were measured by a capillary electrophoresis technique. The oxc gene, encoding oxalyl-coenzyme A (CoA) decarboxylase, a key enzyme in oxalate catabolism, was isolated by probing a genomic library of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BI07, which was one of the most active strains in the preliminary screening. The genetic and transcriptional organization of oxc flanking regions was determined, unraveling the presence of two other independently transcribed open reading frames, potentially responsible for the ability of B. animalis subsp. lactis to degrade oxalate. pH-controlled batch fermentations revealed that acidic conditions were a prerequisite for a significant oxalate degradation rate, which dramatically increased in cells first adapted to subinhibitory concentrations of oxalate and then exposed to pH 4.5. Oxalate-preadapted cells also showed a strong induction of the genes potentially involved in oxalate catabolism, as demonstrated by a transcriptional analysis using quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR. These findings provide new insights into the characterization of oxalate-degrading probiotic bacteria and may support the use of B. animalis subsp. lactis as a promising adjunct for the prophylaxis and management of oxalate-related kidney disease.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00844-10
PMCID: PMC2918965  PMID: 20601517
22.  Correction: Through Ageing, and Beyond: Gut Microbiota and Inflammatory Status in Seniors and Centenarians 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):10.1371/annotation/df45912f-d15c-44ab-8312-e7ec0607604d.
doi:10.1371/annotation/df45912f-d15c-44ab-8312-e7ec0607604d
PMCID: PMC2884025
23.  Through Ageing, and Beyond: Gut Microbiota and Inflammatory Status in Seniors and Centenarians 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10667.
Background
Age-related physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as modifications in lifestyle, nutritional behaviour, and functionality of the host immune system, inevitably affect the gut microbiota, resulting in a greater susceptibility to infections.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By using the Human Intestinal Tract Chip (HITChip) and quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea, we explored the age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition among young adults, elderly, and centenarians, i.e subjects who reached the extreme limits of the human lifespan, living for over 100 years. We observed that the microbial composition and diversity of the gut ecosystem of young adults and seventy-years old people is highly similar but differs significantly from that of the centenarians. After 100 years of symbiotic association with the human host, the microbiota is characterized by a rearrangement in the Firmicutes population and an enrichment in facultative anaerobes, notably pathobionts. The presence of such a compromised microbiota in the centenarians is associated with an increased inflammatory status, also known as inflammageing, as determined by a range of peripheral blood inflammatory markers. This may be explained by a remodelling of the centenarians' microbiota, with a marked decrease in Faecalibacterium prauznitzii and relatives, symbiotic species with reported anti-inflammatory properties. As signature bacteria of the long life we identified specifically Eubacterium limosum and relatives that were more than ten-fold increased in the centenarians.
Conclusions/Significance
We provide evidence for the fact that the ageing process deeply affects the structure of the human gut microbiota, as well as its homeostasis with the host's immune system. Because of its crucial role in the host physiology and health status, age-related differences in the gut microbiota composition may be related to the progression of diseases and frailty in the elderly population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010667
PMCID: PMC2871786  PMID: 20498852
24.  High taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota by Ligase Detection Reaction - Universal Array approach 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:116.
Background
Affecting the core functional microbiome, peculiar high level taxonomic unbalances of the human intestinal microbiota have been recently associated with specific diseases, such as obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, and intestinal inflammation.
Results
In order to specifically monitor microbiota unbalances that impact human physiology, here we develop and validate an original DNA-microarray (HTF-Microbi.Array) for the high taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota. Based on the Ligase Detection Reaction-Universal Array (LDR-UA) approach, the HTF-Microbi.Array enables specific detection and approximate relative quantification of 16S rRNAs from 30 phylogenetically related groups of the human intestinal microbiota. The HTF-Microbi.Array was used in a pilot study of the faecal microbiota of eight young adults. Cluster analysis revealed the good reproducibility of the high level taxonomic microbiota fingerprint obtained for each of the subject.
Conclusion
The HTF-Microbi.Array is a fast and sensitive tool for the high taxonomic level fingerprint of the human intestinal microbiota in terms of presence/absence of the principal groups. Moreover, analysis of the relative fluorescence intensity for each probe pair of our LDR-UA platform can provide estimation of the relative abundance of the microbial target groups within each samples. Focusing the phylogenetic resolution at division, order and cluster levels, the HTF-Microbi.Array is blind with respect to the inter-individual variability at the species level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-116
PMCID: PMC2873488  PMID: 20398430
25.  Antibiotics and probiotics in chronic pouchitis: A comparative proteomic approach 
AIM: To profile protein expression in mucosal biopsies from patients with chronic refractory pouchitis following antibiotic or probiotic treatment, using a comparative proteomic approach.
METHODS: Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry were used to characterize the changes related to antibiotic therapy in the protein expression profiles of biopsy samples from patients with chronic refractory pouchitis. The same proteomic approach was applied to identify differentially expressed proteins in the non-inflamed pouch before and after probiotic administration.
RESULTS: In the first set of 2D gels, 26 different proteins with at least 2-fold changes in their expression levels between the pouchitis condition and antibiotic-induced remission were identified. In the second set of analysis, the comparison between mucosal biopsy proteomes in the normal and probiotic-treated pouch resulted in 17 significantly differently expressed proteins. Of these, 8 exhibited the same pattern of deregulation as in the pouchitis/pouch remission group.
CONCLUSION: For the first time, 2D protein maps of mucosal biopsies from patients with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis were provided, and differentially expressed proteins following antibiotic/probiotic treatment were identified.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v16.i1.30
PMCID: PMC2799914  PMID: 20039446
Chronic disease; Pouchitis; Antibiotics; Probiotics; Proteins; Gene expression

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