Nature Reviews Microbiology 10, 66-78 (January 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrmicro2690

Emerging molecular insights into the interaction between probiotics and the host intestinal mucosa

Peter A. Bron1,2,3,6, Peter van Baarlen4,6 & Michiel Kleerebezem1,2,5  About the authors


Probiotic bacteria can modulate immune responses in the host gastrointestinal tract to promote health. The genomics era has provided novel opportunities for the discovery and characterization of bacterial probiotic effector molecules that elicit specific responses in the intestinal system. Furthermore, nutrigenomic analyses of the response to probiotics have unravelled the signalling and immune response pathways which are modulated by probiotic bacteria. Together, these genomic approaches and nutrigenomic analyses have identified several bacterial factors that are involved in modulation of the immune system and the mucosal barrier, and have revealed that a molecular 'bandwidth of human health' could represent a key determinant in an individual's physiological responsiveness to probiotics. These approaches may lead to improved stratification of consumers and to subpopulation-level probiotic supplementation to maintain or improve health, or to reduce the risk of disease.

Author affiliations

  1. Top Institute Food and Nutrition, Nieuwe Kanaal 9A, 6709 PA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  2. NIZO Food Research, Kernhemseweg 2, 6718ZB Ede, The Netherlands.
  3. Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, Julianalaan 67, 2628BC Delft, The Netherlands.
  4. Host-Microbe Interactomics, Wageningen University, De Elst 1, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  5. Laboratory for Microbiology, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 10, 6703HB Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  6. These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Michiel Kleerebezem1,2,5 Email:

Published online 21 November 2011