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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 981214, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/981214
Review Article

The Gut Microbiota and Human Health with an Emphasis on the Use of Microencapsulated Bacterial Cells

Biomedical Technology and Cell Therapy Research Laboratory, Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Physiology and Artificial Cells and Organs Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, 3775 University Street, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 2B4

Received 19 November 2010; Revised 16 February 2011; Accepted 11 April 2011

Academic Editor: Eric C. Martens

Copyright © 2011 Satya Prakash et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in maintaining health. Alterations of the gut bacterial population have been associated with a number of diseases. Past and recent studies suggest that one can positively modify the contents of the gut microbiota by introducing prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and other therapeutics. This paper focuses on probiotic modulation of the gut microbiota by their delivery to the lower gastrointestinal tract (GIT). There are numerous obstacles to overcome before microorganisms can be utilized as therapeutics. One important limitation is the delivery of viable cells to the lower GIT without a significant loss of cell viability and metabolic features through the harsh conditions of the upper GIT. Microencapsulation has been shown to overcome this, with various types of microcapsules available for resolving this limitation. This paper discusses the gut microbiota and its role in disease, with a focus on microencapsulated probiotics and their potentials and limitations.