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A streamlined workflow for a fast and cost-effective count of tyndallized probiotics using flow cytometry

The use of dead probiotics and their cellular metabolites seems to exhibit immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, providing protection against pathogens.

A streamlined workflow for a fast and cost-effective count of tyndallized probiotics using flow cytometry

These inanimate microorganisms, often referred to as tyndallized or heat-killed bacteria, are a new class of probiotics employed in clinical practice. Safety concerns regarding the extensive use of live microbial cells have increased interest in inactivated bacteria, as they could eliminate shelf-life problems and reduce the risks of microbial translocation and infection. Culture-dependent methods are not suitable for the quality assessment of these products, and alternative methods are needed for their quantification. To date, bacterial counting chambers and microscopy have been used for tyndallized bacteria enumeration, but no alternative validated methods are now available for commercial release.

The aim of the present study is to design a new method for the qualitative and quantitative determination of tyndallized bacterial cells using flow cytometric technology. Using a live/dead viability assay based on two nucleic acid stains, thiazole orange (TO) and propidium iodide (PI), we optimized a workflow to evaluate bacterial viability beyond the reproduction capacity that provides information about the structural properties and metabolic activities of probiotics on FACSVerse without using beads as a reference.

The data obtained in this study represent the first analytical application that works effectively both on viable and non-viable cells.

The results provided consistent evidence, and different samples were analyzed using the same staining protocol and acquisition settings. No significant discrepancies were highlighted between the declared specification of commercial strain and the analytical data obtained. For the first time, flow cytometry was used for counting tyndallized bacterial cells as a quality control assessment in probiotic production. This aspect becomes important if applied to medical devices where we cannot boast metabolic but only mechanical activities.

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