Probiotics also help prevent disease by interacting with and strengthening the immune system.
"Exposure to commensal organisms is necessary for the appropriate development of both the innate and acquired immune systems. Once established, probiotic organisms interact with these immune defenses, possibly changing the nature of the immune response to other antigens, including commensal and pathogenic organisms," says Walker.
The report is the outcome of a colloquium convened by the American Academy of Microbiology in November 2005 to discuss the current state of knowledge regarding probiotics. Participants with expertise in microbiology, medicine, periodontics, animal science, immunology, nutrition and other fields met to discuss a variety of issues associated with the field of probiotics. In addition to providing an overview of the current state of and potential for probiotic research, the report also offers specific recommendations to help advance the field.
In addition to those listed above, some other potential future applications of probiotics identified in the report include treating antibiotic-resistant infections, encouraging weight gain in newborns and children with AIDS, reducing the incidence of kidney stones, and reducing the recurrence of bladder tumors.