A recent study using ‘organ-on-a-chip’ technology (a three dimensional cell culture chip which simulates the activity and response of organs or organ systems) emphasises the need to ensure patients have a well-functioning intestinal epithelial barrier before commencing the use of probiotics for best outcomes.
By inducing colitis on the gut-on-a-chip, researchers were able to study the impact of inflammation on the gut barrier, finding an increase in oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokine production.
Probiotics effectively reduced the oxidative stress, but did not have an effect on the epithelial barrier function or pro-inflammatory response. Oxidative stress and the inflammatory response were sufficiently controlled by maintaining a functional gut barrier.
While probiotics can be a useful tool in reducing inflammation, this study suggests that it is important to ensure an undamaged epithelial barrier to ensure full efficacy of probiotic treatment.