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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antagonistic effect of Lactobacillus strains against gas-producing coliforms isolated from colicky infants

Francesco Savino1*, Lisa Cordisco2, Valentina Tarasco1, Emanuela Locatelli1, Diana Di Gioia3, Roberto Oggero1 and Diego Matteuzzi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Regina Margherita Children Hospital, P.zza Polonia 94, Torino, 10126, Italy

2 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Bologna, via Belmeloro 6, Bologna, 40126, Italy

3 Department of Agroenvironmental Sciences and Technologies - Microbiology Area, University of Bologna, Via Fanin 42, 40127, Bologna, Italy

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-157

Published: 30 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Infantile colic is a common disturb within the first 3 months of life, nevertheless the pathogenesis is incompletely understood and treatment remains an open issue. Intestinal gas production is thought to be one of the causes of abdominal discomfort in infants suffering from colic. However, data about the role of the amount of gas produced by infants' colonic microbiota and the correlation with the onset of colic symptoms are scanty. The benefit of supplementation with lactobacilli been recently reported but the mechanisms by which they exert their effects have not yet been fully defined. This study was performed to evaluate the interaction between Lactobacillus spp. strains and gas-forming coliforms isolated from stools of colicky infants.

Results

Strains of coliforms were isolated from stools of 45 colicky and 42 control breastfed infants in McConkey Agar and identified using PCR with species-specific primers, and the BBL™ Enterotube™ II system for Enterobacteriaceae. Gas-forming capability of coliforms was assessed in liquid cultures containing lactose as sole carbon source. The average count of total coliforms in colicky infants was significantly higher than controls: 5.98 (2.00-8.76) log10 vs 3.90 (2.50-7.10) CFU/g of faeces (p = 0.015). The following strains were identified: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Klebsiella oxytoca, Enterobacter aerogenes, Enterobacter cloacae and Enterococcus faecalis. Then, 27 Lactobacillus strains were tested for their antagonistic effect against coliforms both by halo-forming method and in liquid co-cultures. Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp.delbrueckii DSM 20074 and L. plantarum MB 456 were able to inhibit all coliforms strains (halo-forming method), also in liquid co-cultures, thus demonstrating an antagonistic activity.

Conclusions

This study shows that two out of 27 strains of Lactobacillus examined possess an antimicrobial effect against six species of gas-forming coliforms isolated from colicky infants. Our findings may stimulate new researches to identify which Lactobacillus strains can improve colicky symptoms by acting on coliforms gut colonization.