Probiotic Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains as biotherapeutic tools: is there room for improvement?

Mariana L. Palma, Daniel Zamith-Miranda, Flaviano S. Martins, Fernando A. Bozza, Leonardo Nimrichter, Mônica Montero-Lomeli, Ernesto T.A. Marques, Bruno Douradinha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The probiotic yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae var boulardii is widely used as a low cost and efficient adjuvant against gastrointestinal tract disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and treatment of several types of diarrhea, both in humans and animals. S. boulardii exerts its protective mechanisms by binding and neutralizing enteric pathogens or their toxins, by reducing inflammation and by inducing the secretion of sIgA. Although several S. cerevisiae strains have proven probiotic potential in both humans and animals, only S. boulardii is currently licensed for use in humans. Recently, some researchers started using S. boulardii as heterologous protein expression systems. Combined with their probiotic activity, the use of these strains as prophylactic and therapeutic proteins carriers might result in a positive combined effort to fight specific diseases. Here, we provide an overview of the current use of S. cerevisiae strains as probiotics and their mechanisms of action. We also discuss their potential to produce molecules with biotherapeutic application and the advantages and hurdles of this approach. Finally, we suggest future directions and alternatives for which the combined effort of specific immunomodulatory effects of probiotic S. cerevisiae strains and ability to express desired foreign genes would find a practical application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6563-6570
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 27 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Expression of heterologous proteins
  • Mechanisms of action
  • Probiotics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae var boulardii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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