Researchers have brought together all the latest scientific advances on Faecalibacterium in a recently published review.
What are new-generation probiotics?
According to the WHO, probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Lactic acid bacteria are their main representatives, most of which are derived from fermented food products. Next generation probiotics are bacteria isolated from the human microbiome.
Faecalibacterium is a bacterial genus belonging to this new category of probiotics. It is part of our commensal intestinal microbiota.
Presentation of Faecalibacterium
This is a bacterial genus that has attracted growing interest due to its many beneficial effects on human health, particularly intestinal health.
Faecalibacterium is a genus in which the bacteria are:
- Gram-positive: its thick cell wall is composed of peptidoglycans
- Strictly anaerobic: meaning that they can only develop in the absence of oxygen
- Extremely oxygen sensitive
This bacterial genus also can synthesise short-chain fatty acids (mainly butyrate) from dietary fibre. These fatty acids, and butyrate in particular, are important for intestinal health. Butyrate serves as an energy source for enterocytes, maintains the integrity of the intestinal barrier and has anti-inflammatory effects.
In addition, Faecalibacterium is also known for its immunomulatory properties, meaning its ability to regulate the body’s immune responses.
Faecalibacterium, a biomarker of interest
Several studies have shown that levels of Faecalibacterium are often reduced in people suffering from various illnesses such as:
- IBD*, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Metabolic syndrome
- People hospitalised with Covid-19
Although the mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood, researchers have attempted to explain this depletion, particularly in the case of IBD.
IBD is associated with a dysbiotic microbiota and intestinal inflammation. The latter is accompanied by an imbalance between the reactive oxygen species that are overproduced and an increase in oxygen levels. These conditions favour facultative anaerobic bacteria to the detriment of srtict anaerobic bacteria such as Faecalibacterium.
In contrast, high levels of this bacterial genus are associated with good intestinal health.
How can we increase the levels of Faecalibacterium in the microbiome?
One way of improving our health would be to increase the intestinal concentration of Faecalibacterium.
There are various strategies to consider.
These include dietary interventions:
- The Mediterranean diet, rich in fibre
- Prebiotics, and more specifically fibre
- Traditional probiotics, some of which improve the abundance of Faecalibacterium.
But also, fecal microbiota transplantation, and even certain medications.
According to this review, the results on Faecalibacterium are encouraging, showing its great potential for improving our health. Further research is needed to better understand its mechanisms of action and develop innovative health strategies.
*IBD: Inflammatory Bowel Disease
**IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
MARTIN R, RIOS-COVIAN D, HUILLET E, AUGER S, KHAZAL S, BERMUDEZ-HUMARAN LG, SOKOL H, CHATTEL JM, LANGELLA P. Faecalibacterium: a bacterial genus with promising human health applications. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2023, fuad039