Adhesion forces and coaggregation between vaginal staphylococci and lactobacilli
The Prokaryotes: Human Microbiology
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The rapid and widespread growth in interest in probiotics has developed for several reasons. There has been a relatively recent appreciation that humans are made up of vastly more microbes than their own cells, and these microorganisms are involved in almost every facet of life. The ability to utilize microbes for human health dates back to paleolithic times with fermentation of food. However, only with the advent of modern day molecular biology and high-throughput sequencing have we been able to probe the human microbiome and its relationship to health. Defined as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host, probiotic applications have ranged from oral care to skin, gastrointestinal, and urogenital health, and in the future to cardiovascular, brain, and other areas, as well as in programming of the fetus and newborns. However, too many products are untested and should be banned from using the term probiotic until sufficient evidence has been accumulated on their effectiveness and safety. In order to manipulate the microbiota, strains and products must be carefully selected, documented, and administered appropriately. Studies have explored mechanisms of action, but few have linked these directly with outcomes in humans. Modulation of immunity, alterations in metabolism of microbes and host cells present in the niche to which probiotics are applied, and an ability to displace pathogens are likely important factors. But as studies uncover how microbes affect obesity, diabetes, and mental health, new applications of probiotics will undoubtedly emerge.