Assessing the risk of probiotic dietary supplements in the context of antibiotic resistance

Document Type


Publication Date



Probiotic bacteria are known to harbor intrinsic and mobile genetic elements that confer resistance to a wide variety of antibiotics. Their high amounts in dietary supplements can establish a reservoir of antibiotic resistant genes in the human gut. These resistant genes can be transferred to pathogens that share the same intestinal habitat thus resulting in serious clinical ramifications. While antibiotic resistance of probiotic bacteria from food, human and animal sources have been well-documented, the resistant profiles of probiotics from dietary supplements have only been recently studied. These products are consumed with increasing regularity due to their health claims that include the improvement of intestinal health and immune response as well as prevention of acute and antibiotic-associated diarrhea and cancer; but, a comprehensive risk assessment on the spread of resistant genes to human health is lacking. Here, we highlight recent reports of antibiotic resistance of probiotic bacteria isolated from dietary supplements, and propose complementary strategies that can shed light on the risks of consuming such products in the context of a global widespread of antibiotic resistance. In concomitant with a broader screening of antibiotic resistance in probiotic supplements is the use of computational simulations, live imaging and functional genomics to harvest knowledge on the evolutionary behavior, adaptations and dynamics of probiotics studied in conditions that best represent the human gut including in the presence of antibiotics. The underlying goal is to enable the health benefits of probiotics to be exploited in a responsible manner and with minimal risk to human health.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Microbiology



This document is currently not available here.