What is Bifidobacterium infantis?

Written by ReCharge — March 15, 2021

What is Bifidobacterium infantis?

Everything you need to know about Bifidobacterium infantis


Note: Bifidobacterium infantis can only be found in the medical probiotic Pendulum Glucose Control, which has been clinically shown to lower blood-glucose spikes by 33% and reduce A1C levels by 0.6 in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Bifidobacterium infantis is a highly specialized microbe ("beneficial bacteria") that resides in the gut microbiome.

Unlike most other bacteria in the gut microbiome, Bifidobacterium infantis is an inherited microbe, often being passed down from mother to child during child birth. 

Once it takes up residence in the gut microbiome, Bifidobacterium infantis flourishes and helps to cultivate an environment where other beneficial bacteria can grow. 

Recent research suggests that supplementation with a medical probiotic containing Bifidobacterium infantis may be useful in helping to manage Type 2 diabetes

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

  • Bifidobacterium infantis has been shown to strengthen the gut barrier, and increase butyrate production in certain contexts
  • Currently, the most effective way to increase Bifidobacterium infantis levels is through the use of probiotics

Here we explore the many benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis and how it is being used as a probiotic.

What is Bifidobacterium infantis?

Bifidobacterium infantis is a lactic-acid-producing gut bacteria that provides many benefits to newborn infants as well as adults. 

What are the benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis?

Bifidobacterium infantis2

  • Cooperates with other gut-microbiome bacteria to harvest energy from non-digestible nutrients, ultimately leading to the creation of butyrate
  • Occupies space in the gut microbiome that potentially harmful microbes would otherwise fill

    It is noteworthy that much of what is known about the benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis comes from studies that were done in infants2.

    While it is likely that these benefits extend to adults as well—and there is some evidence to support this—the magnitude of these benefits may differ as we get older. 

    Digestion and butyrate

    Bifidobacterium infantis is a specialized gut bacteria that has evolved to colonize the human gut very early in life, potentially even before birth2

    Once in the gut, Bifidobacterium infantis plays a critical role in breaking down complex carbohydrates that human cells are unable to digest. In infants, this skill is particularly useful as breast milk is primarily made up of fats, sugars, a set of non-digestible carbohydrates that are collectively referred to as Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO),2 which are difficult to digest but contain many valuable parts that can be harvested and used by both bacterial and human cells. 

    Very few organisms are capable of breaking up HMOs and making their useful parts accessible to others. 

    Bifidobacterium infantis is one such organism! 

    Equipped with an array of tools coded in its DNA, Bifidobacterium infantis is one of the few bacteria in the gut microbiome that can digest HMOs, transforming them from inert molecules to sources of nutrition for the gut microbiome2

    Among the many products that may come from this activity is the creation of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) known as butyrate

    Butyrate is one of the three main SCFAs produced in the gut microbiome and, among its many uses, is instrumental in helping the body regulate blood-sugar levels. 

    Blocking harmful bacteria

    Bifidobacterium infantis’ ability to extract nutrients from HMOs gives it a competitive advantage in a baby’s gut. This is because infants primarily feed on formula or breast milk which is made up of lactose, fats, and HMOs2

    In this environment, Bifidobacterium infantis is able to grow and occupy a large amount of space in the microbiome.

    Simply by outcompeting others, Bifidobacterium infantis may help to keep infants healthy by preventing potentially harmful bacteria from taking up residence in the gut. 

    baby

    Bifidobacterium infantis and Type 2 diabetes

    Evidence suggests that Bifidobacterium infantis (when taken as part of a synbiotic know as Pendulum Glucose Control) may be a beneficial in helping to manage Type 2 diabetes. 

    According to a study published in British Medical Journal, after several weeks, participants with Type 2 diabetes taking metformin who had taken Pendulum Glucose Control were found to have lower A1C levels—indicating a prolonged decrease in their blood-glucose levels17.

    body

    Does Bifidobacterium infantis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome help?

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition characterized by severe inflammation in the digestive tract, bloating, and possible diarrhea or constipation. 

    Among the many treatment options, some researchers believe that probiotics may be one of the most promising, specifically probiotics that include Bifidobacterium infantis

    Studies have shown that patients with IBS tend to have an altered microbiome in which certain species of bacteria, including Bifidobacterium infantis, are missing. 

    This raises the possibility of treating IBS by restoring Bifidobacterium infantis.

    To this end, a study involving 48 children with IBS found that a probiotic mixture containing Bifidobacterium infantis caused a significant decrease in abdominal pain and a 48% increase in participants’ stated quality of life10.

    This study is backed by multiple earlier studies showing that probiotics with Bifidobacterium infantis may be able to relieve some, but not all, symptoms of IBS.

    How to increase Bifidobacteria infantis in the gut

    For adults, altering the gut microbiome often requires a personal approach that combines diet, exercise, and probiotics. 

    Increasing Bifidobacterium infantis in the gut can, in theory, be done using probiotic foods or medical probiotics like Pendulum Glucose Control that contain Bifidobacterium infantis.18 20

     Yogurt

    Are there any natural sources or foods that increase Bifidobacterium infantis?

    There are many probiotic foods, such as: 

    • Yogurts containing live cultures; 
    • Fermented vegetables such as Kimchi
    • Probiotic cheeses, kiefer, or buttermilk 

    However, we are unaware of commercial-food products that currently include Bifidobacterium infantis in their list of ingredients23

    Are there Bifidobacterium infantis probiotics or supplements that you can take?

    While it may be difficult to know what species of bacteria are included in foods, probiotic supplements can be much more direct in how much Bifidobacterium infantis they provide. 

    Beware of confusion around Bifidobacterium infantis 35624. 

    Align® is a probiotic that is commercially available and has previously been marketed as containing Bifidobacterium infantis strain 35624. 

    However, it now correctly states that it has Bifidobacterium longum 35624—meaning it does not contain Bifidobacterium infantis.

    The medical probiotic Pendulum Glucose Control also contains a unique strain of Bifidobacterium infantis, alongside multiple other bacterial species that are known to produce butyrate or fortify the gut barrier18.

    To date, most of the research on Bifidobacterium infantis as a probiotic has focused on treating IBS. However, Bifidobacterium infantis is included in Pendulum Glucose Control because it’s known to help support cross-feeding between the various species of bacteria that are encapsulated with it. 

    Ultimately, this means that the inclusion of Bifidobacterium infantis in Pendulum Glucose control may help boost butyrate production and help with the management of Type 2 diabetes.18

    How many CFUs of Bifidobacterium infantis should you take?

    The amount of bacteria in a probiotic is often measured in colony forming units, abbreviated as CFUs. 

    A “colony” of bacteria is formed when one bacterial cell replicates into two, and then four, and so on.

    In essence, CFUs is a reference to how many bacteria are alive and well enough to grow under the right conditions. 

    Usually probiotics are taken with the goal of establishing, or increasing, the amount of specific bacterial species in the gut microbiome. So how many CFUs does it take to make sure Bifidobacterium infantis is growing in the gut microbiome?

    At present, there is no universally agreed upon amount of Bifidobacterium infantis that should be taken. 

    This is because several factors—such as medication you may be taking, your diet, exercise level, age, health—affect how successfully the bacteria will be able to grow in your gut microbiome. 

    If you are trying to figure out how much of a probiotic to take, talk with your healthcare professional and, if no guidance is provided, follow the instructions provided with the probiotic. 

    Bifidobacterium infantis vs bifidobacterium lactis: what’s the difference?

    When researching probiotics and probiotic foods, you’re likely to come across the species Bifidobacterium lactis.

    Like Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis is a member of the Bifidobacterium genus—meaning they’re closely related species of bacteria. 

    But while they’re closely related, they are different in important ways24,25

    One of the largest differences is in their ability to metabolize certain carbohydrates.

    Bifidobacterium infantis specialized in digesting HMOs and similar sugars. On the other hand Bifidobacterium lactis cannot metabolize HMOs but can metabolize lactose25

    Bifidobacterium lactis’ ability to digest lactose has made it a very popular ingredient in probiotic yogurts and milks that contain large amounts of lactose. In the presence of its preferred food source, Bifidobacterium lactis is better able to make a home in the gut. 

    For this same reason, Bifidobacterium infantis is able to take up residence in the infant gut much better than Bifidobacterium lactis—the former can digest HMOs, while the latter cannot. 

    Most probiotic dairy products will include Bifidobacterium lactis22,24

    Final Thoughts

    Overtime, the gut microbiome diversifies as many other species of beneficial bacteria move in. But all the while, and creating building blocks that enable butyrate-producing bacteria to thrive. 

    Bifidobacterium infantis’ many beneficial qualities has made it an interesting subject for both researchers and the general public as a potential probiotic. 

    Bifidobacterium infantis is an old friend from the gut microbiome. Thanks to probiotics like Pendulum Glucose Control, it’s one that may be able to stick around to help us pursue a healthy future. 

    References

    1. Ciorba, Matthew A. “A gastroenterologist's guide to probiotics.” Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association vol. 10,9 (2012): 960-8. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22504002/ 
    2. Underwood, Mark A et al. “Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis: champion colonizer of the infant gut.” Pediatric research vol. 77,1-2 (2015): 229-35. doi:10.1038/pr.2014.156 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25303277/ 
    3. Louis, Petra, and Harry J. Flint. “Formation of Propionate and Butyrate by the Human Colonic Microbiota.” Environmental Microbiology, vol. 19, no. 1, 2016, pp. 29–41., doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13589. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27928878/ 
    4. Milani, Christian et al. “Bifidobacteria exhibit social behavior through carbohydrate resource sharing in the gut.” Scientific reports vol. 5 15782. 28 Oct. 2015, doi:10.1038/srep15782 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283967756_Bifidobacteria_exhibit_social_behavior_through_carbohydrate_resource_sharing_in_the_gut 
    5. Jena, Prasant Kumar et al. “The effect of synbiotics Bifidobacterium infantis and milk oligosaccharides on shaping gut microbiota community structure and NASH treatment.” Data in brief vol. 19 1025-1029. 24 May. 2018, doi:10.1016/j.dib.2018.05.127 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29900399/ 
    6. O'Callaghan, Amy, and Douwe van Sinderen. “Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 7 925. 15 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00925 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27379055/ 
    7. Meng, Di et al. “Indole-3-lactic acid, a metabolite of tryptophan, secreted by Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis is anti-inflammatory in the immature intestine.” Pediatric research vol. 88,2 (2020): 209-217. doi:10.1038/s41390-019-0740-x https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31945773/ 
    8. Karav, Sercan et al. “Reduced colonic mucin degradation in breastfed infants colonized by Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis EVC001.” FEBS open bio vol. 8,10 1649-1657. 17 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1002/2211-5463.12516 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6168692/ 
    9. Henrick, Bethany M et al. “Colonization by B. infantis EVC001 modulates enteric inflammation in exclusively breastfed infants.” Pediatric research vol. 86,6 (2019): 749-757. doi:10.1038/s41390-019-0533-2 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41390-019-0533-2 
    10. Giannetti, Eleonora, et al. “A Mixture of 3 Bifidobacteria Decreases Abdominal Pain and Improves the Quality of Life in Children With Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, vol. 51, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.1097/mcg.0000000000000528. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27306945/ 
    11. Ciorba, Matthew A. “A gastroenterologist's guide to probiotics.” Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association vol. 10,9 (2012): 960-8. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22504002/ 
    12. Aragon, George et al. “Probiotic therapy for irritable bowel syndrome.” Gastroenterology & hepatology vol. 6,1 (2010): 39-44. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20567539/ 
    13. Zhou, Linyan et al. “Bifidobacterium infantis Induces Protective Colonic PD-L1 and Foxp3 Regulatory T Cells in an Acute Murine Experimental Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Gut and liver vol. 13,4 (2019): 430-439. doi:10.5009/gnl18316 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30600673/ 
    14. Altmann, Friedrich et al. “Genome Analysis and Characterisation of the Exopolysaccharide Produced by Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum 35624™.” PloS one vol. 11,9 e0162983. 22 Sep. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162983 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0162983 
    15. Allen, Andrew P., et al. “Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624 and Other Probiotics in the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Strain Specificity, Symptoms, and Mechanisms.” Current Medical Research and Opinion, vol. 33, no. 7, 2017, pp. 1349–1351., doi:10.1080/03007995.2017.1322571.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28436237/ 
    16. Dale, Hanna Fjeldheim et al. “Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review.” Nutrients vol. 11,9 2048. 2 Sep. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11092048 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31480656/ 
    17. Perraudeau, Fanny, et al. “Improvements to Postprandial Glucose Control in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes: a Multicenter, Double Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Novel Probiotic Formulation.” BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, BMJ Specialist Journals, 1 July 2020, drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001319.full. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32675291/ 
    18. Terpou, Antonia et al. “Probiotics in Food Systems: Significance and Emerging Strategies Towards Improved Viability and Delivery of Enhanced Beneficial Value.” Nutrients vol. 11,7 1591. 13 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11071591 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683253/ 
    19. Linares, Daniel M et al. “Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria with Potential to Design Natural Biofunctional Health-Promoting Dairy Foods.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 8 846. 18 May. 2017, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.00846 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28572792/ 
    20. Lewis, Zachery T et al. “Validating bifidobacterial species and subspecies identity in commercial probiotic products.” Pediatric research vol. 79,3 (2016): 445-52. doi:10.1038/pr.2015.244 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26571226/ 
    21. De Filippis, Francesca et al. “The food-gut axis: lactic acid bacteria and their link to food, the gut microbiome and human health.” FEMS microbiology reviews vol. 44,4 (2020): 454-489. doi:10.1093/femsre/fuaa015 https://academic.oup.com/femsre/article/44/4/454/5859486 
    22. Rezac, Shannon et al. “Fermented Foods as a Dietary Source of Live Organisms.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 9 1785. 24 Aug. 2018, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01785 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6117398/ 
    23. Abdelazez, Amro, et al. “Production of a Functional Frozen Yogurt Fortified with Bifidobacterium Spp.” BioMed Research International, vol. 2017, 2017, pp. 1–10., doi:10.1155/2017/6438528. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317542159_Production_of_a_Functional_Frozen_Yogurt_Fortified_with_Bifidobacterium_spp 
    24. Jungersen, Mikkel et al. “The Science behind the Probiotic Strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12(®).” Microorganisms vol. 2,2 92-110. 28 Mar. 2014, doi:10.3390/microorganisms2020092 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5029483/ 
    25. Underwood, Mark A et al. “A comparison of two probiotic strains of bifidobacteria in premature infants.” The Journal of pediatrics vol. 163,6 (2013): 1585-1591.e9. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.07.017 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23993139/ 
    26. Groeger, David et al. “Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut.” Gut microbes vol. 4,4 (2013): 325-39. doi:10.4161/gmic.25487 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23842110/ 
    27. Chichlowski, Maciej et al. “Bifidobacterium longum Subspecies infantis (B. infantis) in Pediatric Nutrition: Current State of Knowledge.” Nutrients vol. 12,6 1581. 28 May. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12061581 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32481558/ 
    28. Yuan, Fuqiang, et al. “Efficacy of Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624 in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a Meta-Analysis.” Current Medical Research and Opinion, vol. 33, no. 7, 2017, pp. 1191–1197., doi:10.1080/03007995.2017.1292230.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28166427/ 
    29. WD;, Brenner DM;Chey. “Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624: a Novel Probiotic for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Reviews in Gastroenterological Disorders, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19367213/. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19367213/ 
    30. Gurung, Manoj et al. “Role of gut microbiota in type 2 diabetes pathophysiology.” EBioMedicine vol. 51 (2020): 102590. doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.11.051 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/ebiom/article/PIIS2352-3964(19)30800-X/fulltext

       

       

      Before you consider any of these gut-microbiome dietary solutions, talk to your healthcare provider. 
      The FDA has not approved or evaluated these statements. Pendulum products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. Results may vary.