Secreted Compounds of the Probiotic Bacillus clausii Strain O/C Inhibit the Cytotoxic Effects Induced by Clostridium difficile and Bacillus cereus Toxins.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2016 Jun ;60(6):3445-54. Epub 2016 May 23. PMID: 27001810
Although the use of probiotics based on Bacillus strains to fight off intestinal pathogens and antibiotic-associated diarrhea is widespread, the mechanisms involved in producing their beneficial effects remain unclear. Here, we studied the ability of compounds secreted by the probiotic Bacillus clausii strain O/C to counteract the cytotoxic effects induced by toxins of two pathogens, Clostridium difficile and Bacillus cereus, by evaluating eukaryotic cell viability and expression of selected genes. Coincubation of C. difficile and B. cereus toxic culture supernatants with the B. clausii supernatant completely prevented the damage induced by toxins in Vero and Caco-2 cells. The hemolytic effect of B. cereus was also avoided by the probiotic supernatant. Moreover, in these cells, the expression of rhoB, encoding a Rho GTPase target for C. difficile toxins, was normalized when C. difficile supernatant was pretreated using the B. clausii supernatant. All of the beneficial effects observed with the probiotic were abolished by the serine protease inhibitor phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF). Suspecting the involvement of a secreted protease in this protective effect, a protease was purified from the B. clausii supernatant and identified as a serine protease (M-protease; GenBank accession number Q99405). Experiments on Vero cells demonstrated the antitoxic activity of the purified protease against pathogen supernatants. This is the first report showing the capacity of a protease secreted by probiotic bacteria to inhibit the cytotoxic effects of toxinogenic C. difficile and B. cereus strains. This extracellular compound could be responsible, at least in part, for the protective effects observed for this human probiotic in antibiotic-associated diarrhea.