EpiCor, a yeast fermentate prebiotic, protects integrity of the intestinal barrier, says recent study

August 9, 2019

In an animal study recently published in the Journal of Microbiology, Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentate prebiotic was found to protect the integrity of the intestinal barrier.

In an animal study recently published in theJournal of Microbiology1, Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentate prebiotic (brand name EpiCor by Embria Health Sciences; Ankeny, IA) was found to protect the integrity of the intestinal barrier. In the study, 32 rats were divided into two groups, and given either 1 ml of the yeast fermentate or placebo once a day for 14 days. On day 15, half of each group was exposed to heat stress or kept at room temperature.

Heat stress impacts gastrointestinal physiology, which can result in ulcers, and the development of irritable bowel syndrome as well as inflammatory bowel disease. More specifically, stress can impact mucosal barrier function in the intestine, resulting in gut permeability and systemic inflammation.

Results showed that treatment with the yeast fermentate significantly increased the levels of tight junction (TJ) proteins. According to the researchers, TJs are one type of intracellular junction complex that makes up the mucosal barrier, responsible for sealing the intercellular space, and acting as the primary barrier to the diffusion of solutes through the intercellular space of the mucosal barrier. Disruption of the intestinal TJ barrier activates the mucosal immune system and inflammation, acting as a trigger for the development of intestinal and systemic diseases.

Supplementation with the yeast fermentate also preserved and elevated Paneth and goblet cells. According to the researchers, Paneth and goblet cells are critical for the maintenance of the intestinal barrier. Paneth cells produce antimicrobial compounds that control the intestinal barrier and limit bacterial penetration to host tissues, while goblet cells are responsible for the production of mucins that form the basic skeleton of the mucus layer, and first line of innate defense.

When researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of the rats, they discovered that rats taking the placebo and exposed to heat stress experienced a significant decrease in the ratio of anaerobic to aerobic bacteria, compared to other groups. Anaerobic bacteria make up a majority of the distal small intestine and colon, and when the composition shifts, it signifies a microbial disturbance in the gut. The predominance of aerobic bacteria in the gut has even been found in patients with colon cancer, malnutrition, and other conditions.

A significant increase of haemolytic bacteria, such as Escherichia spp. and Staphylococcus spp., was also observed in the placebo group exposed to heat stress, while these increases were attenuated in the yeast fermentate group. Increases in haemolytic bacteria can be a potentiator of intestinal inflammation and epithelial dysfunction in the gut. Supplementation with yeast fermentate also increased the number of Bifidobacteria, while the placebo groups saw no change prior to heat stress, and following heat stress experienced substantial losses of Bifidobacteria

The researchers concluded that the prevention of heat stress-related complications by the yeast fermentate was associated with the beneficial modulation of the gut microbiota by the prebiotic. Research on humans needs to be conducted to further validate the efficacy of the ingredient.

References:

1. Ducray HAG et al. “Yeast fermentate prebiotic improves intestinal barrier integrity during heat stress by modulation of the gut microbiota in rats.” Journal of Applied Microbiology, published online ahead of print on June 23, 2019