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Lactococcus lactis is a commonly used starter strain that can be converted from a vitamin B2 consumer into a vitamin B2 ‘factory’ by over-expressing its riboflavin biosynthesis genes. The present study was conducted to assess in a rat bioassay the response of riboflavin produced by GM or native lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The riboflavin-producing strains were able to eliminate most physiological manifestations of ariboflavinosis such as stunted growth, elevated erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient values and hepatomegalia that were observed using a riboflavin depletion–repletion model. Riboflavin status and growth rates were greatly improved when the depleted rats were fed with cultures of L. lactis that overproduced this vitamin whereas the native strain did not show the same effect. The present study is the first animal trial with food containing living bacteria that were engineered to overproduce riboflavin. These results pave the way for analysing the effect of similar riboflavin-overproducing LAB in human trials.
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