Small intestine: Edited by William F. Stenson and David H. AlpersProbiotics: progress toward novel therapies for intestinal diseasesYan, Fanga,c; Polk, David Brenta,b,cAuthor Information aDepartment of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Monroe Carrel Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, USA bCell and Developmental Biology, USA cDigestive Diseases Research Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA Correspondence to David Brent Polk, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2215 Garland Avenue, MRBIV, Room #1025, Nashville, TN 37232-0696, USA Tel: +1 615 322 7449; fax: +1 615 343 5323; e-mail: [email protected] Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: March 2010 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 95-101 doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328335239a Buy Metrics Abstract Purpose of review As the beneficial effects of probiotics on health and disease prevention and treatment have been well recognized, the demand for probiotics in clinical applications and as functional foods has significantly increased in spite of limited understanding of the mechanisms. This review focuses on the most recent advances in probiotic research from genetics to biological consequences regulated by probiotics and probiotic-derived factors. Recent findings Genomic and proteomic studies reveal genes and proteins involved in probiotic adaptation in the host and while exerting their beneficial effects. Recent studies in cell culture and in animal models emphasize probiotic functions in intestinal development, nutrition, host microbial balance, cytoprotection, barrier function, innate immunity, and inflammation. Most importantly, several novel and known probiotic-derived factors have been characterized, which regulate host-signaling pathways and mediate probiotic function. Summary Progress in understanding probiotic mechanisms of action will increase our basic understanding of biological crosstalk and provide the rationale to support the development of new hypothesis-driven studies to define the clinical efficacy of probiotics for intestinal disorders. © 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.