Probiotic Propionibacterium freudenreichii Extends the Mean Lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans via Activation of the Innate Immune System

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Propionibacterium freudenreichii is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA)-producing bacterium which ferments lactate to:

  • acetate
  • propionate
  • carbon dioxide

The two short-chain fatty acids, acetate and propionate have been shown to enhance human gut immunity.

A study published in the Journal Scientific Reports in August 2016 evaluated the effects of Propionibacterium freudenreichii on lifespan extension and to elucidate the mechanism of Propionibacterium freudenreichii -dependent lifespan extension in Caenorhabditis elegans.  1 

Caenorhabditis elegans is a small, free-living soil nematode commonly used as a model experimental animal because it is easy to treat, has a short lifespan, can be safely used in the laboratory and propagates through self-fertilization. In particular, C. elegansis frequently used in studies on longevity, immunity, neurodegenerative diseases, fat storage, DNA damage responses and apoptosis.

The results of the study showed that Propionibacterium freudenreichii significantly (p < 0.05) extended the lifespan of C. elegans compared with Escherichia coli OP50, a standard food for the worm.

The MLS of Propionibacterium freudenreichii-fed C. elegans, compared with that of E. coliOP50-fed worms, increased by approximately 13%. The survival rates were similar in both the Propionibacterium freudenreichii- and E. coli OP50-fed C. elegans until day 13.

After day 13, the two groups showed a significant difference in the survival rate.  Analysis of age-related biomarkers showed that Propionibacterium freudenreichii retards ageing.

 

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Figure 1.  The effect of Propionibacterium freudenreichii on the lifespan of C. elegans (N2).  Maturing nematodes were fed E. coli OP50 until the L4 stage, and young adult worms were transferred to a fresh mNGM plate seeded with E. coli OP50 or Propionibacterium freudenreichii . Significant differences shown are relative to E. coli OP50; ***p < 0.001. (Source)

The researchers concluded that Propionibacterium freudenreichii extends the lifespan of C. elegans via the p38 MAPK pathway involved in stress response and the TGF-β pathways associated with anti-inflammation processes in the immune system.  2