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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Metabolites produced by probiotic Lactobacilli rapidly increase glucose uptake by Caco-2 cells

Arun K Rooj1, Yasuhiro Kimura2 and Randal K Buddington3*

Author Affiliations

1 Integrative Biomedical Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA

2 Department of Food and Nutrition, Beppu University, 82 Kita-Ishigaki, Beppu, Oita 874-8501 Japan

3 Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, 38152-3480, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-16

Published: 20 January 2010



Although probiotic bacteria and their metabolites alter enterocyte gene expression, rapid, non-genomic responses have not been examined. The present study measured accumulation of tracer (2 μM) glucose by Caco-2 cells after exposure for 10 min or less to a chemically defined medium (CDM) with different monosaccharides before and after anaerobic culture of probiotic Lactobacilli.


Growth of L. acidophilus was supported by CDM with 110 mM glucose, fructose, and mannose, but not with arabinose, ribose, and xylose or the sugar-free CDM. Glucose accumulation was reduced when Caco-2 cells were exposed for 10 min to sterile CDM with glucose (by 92%), mannose (by 90%), fructose (by 55%), and ribose (by 16%), but not with arabinose and xylose. Exposure of Caco-2 cells for 10 min to bacteria-free supernatants prepared after exponential (48 h) and stationary (72 h) growth phases of L. acidophilus cultured in CDM with 110 mM fructose increased glucose accumulation by 83% and 45%, respectively; exposure to a suspension of the bacteria had no effect. The increase in glucose accumulation was diminished by heat-denaturing the supernatant, indicating the response of Caco-2 cells is triggered by as yet unknown heat labile bacterial metabolites, not by a reduction in CDM components that decrease glucose uptake. Supernatants prepared after anaerobic culture of L. gasseri, L. amylovorus, L. gallinarum, and L. johnsonii in the CDM with fructose increased glucose accumulation by 83%, 32%, 27%, and 14%, respectively.


The rapid, non-genomic upregulation of SGLT1 by bacterial metabolites is a heretofore unrecognized interaction between probiotics and the intestinal epithelium.