It is well known that the cell wall of Lactobacillus casei CRL 431, a strain present in probiotics, presents lectinlike surface molecules. Presence of these molecules stimulates the immune system. Given the role that lectins and lectinlike substances play in the adhesion phenomenon, it is probable that this is an initial stage in the immunostimulation produced by this bacterium. To confirm this, adhesion of this microorganism to exfoliated mouse ileal epithelial cells was studied in vitro. Other L. casei strains isolated from adult human intestines and one of dairy origin were also examined for their ability to adhere to ileal epithelial cells. Another strain, which was included in the present study, was Lactobacillus acidophilus CRL 730. L. casei strains isolated from humans showed good ability to adhere to ileal epithelial cells, whereas L. casei isolated from dairy origin did not. Adhesion was only observed at 37°C and at a pH between 6 and 7.5. The exposure time needed for highest adhesion was 30 min. Presence of lectinlike substances on the surface of L. casei CRL 431 is important to this adhesion phenomenon, since adherence capacity was lost after removal of these substances.

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