Did Some Strains of Bifidobacteria Evolve To Help Improve Human Infant’s Gut Microbiome?

Did Some Strains of Bifidobacteria Evolve To Help Improve Human Infant's Gut Microbiome?

There are many articles and books written on the importance of breastfeeding and its effects on infant gut health. A new study was published lately that the probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacteria bifidum mutated to become better adapted to thriving and surviving off of breast milk in a newborn’s gut. I have written a lot about how pathogens have mutated to evade our immune system and wreak havoc, including H. pylori and T. gondii, but here we have proof that probiotic bacteria mutated as well to have a special symbiotic relationship with us.

Information About the Probiotic Strains Bifidobacteria bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum

Bifidobacteria bifidum is a strain of Bifidobacteria that is usually found in the colonic and vaginal flora of humans. The probiotic has been shown to help maintain healthy flora, bolster the immune system, and help digest carbohydrates. Recent studies have shown that bifidum may relieve allergies by decreasing Th2 immune reactions and may help suppress allergic reactions by restoring proper immune regulation. 1 2 3

Bifidobacteria longum is a strain of Bifidobacteria that is found as flora in the large intestine. Bifidobacteria longum is also known to be one of the first colonizing probiotics in newborns. Bifidobacteria longum is critical to the metabolism, fermentation, and digestion of some carbohydrates in the intestinal tract including oligosaccharides. Bifidobacteria longum can break down and ferment amino acids. The probiotic can also break down bile salts and bile acids so that some can be deposited in the stool and others reabsorbed properly during enterohepatic circulation, improving liver function, fat digestibility, and detoxification.

Bifidobacteria longum has been shown in studies to help improve lactose intolerance, prevent diarrhea, alleviate some food allergies, and help fight colonization of opportunistic bacteria in the colon. Finally, Bifidobacteria longum has been shown in studies to be able to help scavenge free radicals in the intestines and help prevent colorectal cancer. 4 5 6 7 8

Did Bifidobacteria bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum Mutate to Have a Specific Symbiotic Relationship With the Human Gut Microbiome? 9

Bifidobacterium is an important probiotic bacteria for our digestive health that is found in significant quantities in an infant’s colon. Human breast milk contains different prebiotics. I have written about GOS, but it contains other prebiotics as well that are essential for the health of the microbiome. Human milk oligosaccharides are the third most abundant component of breast milk. Human milk oligosaccharides are resistant to digestive enzymes that humans produce. The majority of HMO’s an infant ingests survives to the colon where it is broken down by probiotic bacteria including Bifidobacteria bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum, increasing their CFU’s.

One of the most important functions of these oligosaccharides is to nourish the prebiotic microbiome, including Bifidobacteria bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum. Having a healthy probiotic microbiome from birth helps to properly regulate your digestive health for the rest of your life. Having a healthy microbiome from birth reduces opportunistic bacteria that colonizes your gut, reduces inflammation, facilitates proper digestion and assimilation of minerals and nutrients, improves cognitive function, and helps to regulate proper motility.

There is a specific chain of oligosaccharides (complex sugar) in human breast milk, which is the predominance of the type-1 chain. Lacto-N-tetraose, is a type-1 chain that has not been found in other mammals, including apes. Bifidobacteria, especially Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium bifidum, were discovered to have evolved mechanisms to break down human milk oligosaccharides, including lacto-N-biosidase, which hydrolyzes lacto-N-tetraose into lactose, so that Bifidobacterium can use to increase colonization. Both Bifidobacteria mutated different ways to break down the human breast milk oligosaccharides. Bifidobacterium bifidum possesses LNBase (LnbB), while, Bifidobacterium longum uses an unclassified LNBase (LnbX) to help break down human milk oligosaccharides. LnbX was found in elevated amounts in exclusively breastfed infants. Also, greater colonization of Bifidobacterium longum was also found, linking the two together and further establishing the importance of breastfeeding in the development of the infant’s gut.

I am glad that more research is going into discovering symbiotic relationships within our microbiome. The more research that we have on our microbiome, the greater understanding of our microbiome and how we can influence it more positively to help improve our digestive health.

  1. http://gut.bmj.com/content/51/1/51.abstract
  2. Black, Jacquelyn. Microbiology: Principles and Explorations, Wiley, May 1, 2012.
  3. Perlmutter, David, Brain Maker, Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12381787
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549425
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10831430
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11007114
  8. Perlmutter, David, Brain Maker, Little, Brown and Company, 2015.
  9. http://www.cell.com/cell-chemical-biology/abstract/S2451-9456(17)30095-8
1 Comment
  1. It is very informative. Hope that it could help many pregnant women know the importance of probiotics to them, even to us in general. Kudos!

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