Adhesion Assays for Probiotics

The ability to adhere to the host is a classic selection criterion for potential probiotics, leading to transient colonization and helping to promote immunomodulatory effects, as well as stimulating intestinal barrier and metabolic functions. Creative Biolabs is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive CRO service for academic researchers in the field of live biotherapeutics. Our goal is to provide one-stop evaluations of next-generation probiotics to efficiently advance client projects.

Adhesion Mechanisms Mediated by Probiotics

The presence of some surface proteins such as cell wall-anchored proteinases has been shown to enhance hydrophobicity and adhesion in some lactic acid bacteria. The presence of adhesins in bacterial cell walls also plays an important role in bacterial adhesion to the gut. Also, fimbriae or pili can promote adhesion. Besides mucus-binding proteins and pili, other surface proteins like fibronectin-binding proteins (FBPs) and surface layer proteins (SLPs) can contribute to the adherence of bacteria to the intestinal mucosa.

Schematic representation of antiadhesive properties of probiotics and prebiotics.Fig.1 Schematic representation of antiadhesive properties of probiotics and prebiotics. (Monteagudo, 2019)

In Vitro Adhesion Assays at Creative Biolabs

Adhesion to intestinal mucosa is one of the main criteria for the selection of probiotics. Adherence to probiotic bacteria has been commonly evaluated in vitro using mucin adsorbed onto abiotic surfaces and human tumorigenic cell lines such as Caco-2 and HT-29 to mimic the adhesion to intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). The use of epithelial cell lines is very useful for the identification of adhesion mechanisms and molecules. In vitro cell line studies help predict the effect of probiotics and gastrointestinal conditions on the adhesion ability of probiotics.

Adhesion Models

All models used for in vitro adhesion have their specific advantages and drawbacks. Thus, it may be advisable to assess the adhesion of potential probiotics in more than one model, each supplementing the other. Tissue culture cells and intestinal mucus can screen many potential probiotics.

  • The Intestinal Mucosa

Several intestinal mucosal models have been developed, using different parts of the intestinal mucosa as substratum.

  • Tissue Culture Cells and Cells from Hosts

The most widely used models for assessing microbial adhesiveness, not just probiotics, are tissue culture cells. For the study of adhesion to intestinal epithelial cells, in particular, Caco-2 and HT-29 cells are commonly used.

  • Intestinal Mucus

Another model used to study in vitro adhesion is based on immobilized intestinal mucus, isolated from feces or resected tissue. A good correlation exists between adhesion to mucus and Caco-2 models.

  • Whole Tissue

Such a model has been further developed to study adhesion to resected human intestinal tissue and can be used to investigate the influences of intestinal diseases on the adhesion of probiotics.

Creative Biolabs provides custom solutions for each live biotherapeutics or next-generation probiotics project. Our expert scientific staff has extensive project experience. Whether your needs are regular or customized, we can apply our experience to meet your needs. If you would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your project.


  1. Monteagudo, M.A.; et al. Adhesion mechanisms mediated by probiotics and prebiotics and their potential impact on human health. Applied microbiology and biotechnology. 2019, 103(16): 6463-6472.

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