Propionibacterium freudenreichii is a Gram-positive dairy probiotic bacterial species that has been used as a ripening starter in the production of Swiss-type cheese for a long time. It has been exploited for the optimization of cheese production, including ripening capacities and aroma compounds production, but also for the production of vitamin B12 and organic acids. Furthermore, it has emerged in the probiotics landscape owing to several beneficial traits, including tolerance to stress in the gastrointestinal tract, adhesion to host cells, anti-pathogenic activity, anticancer potential and immunomodulatory properties. These beneficial properties have been confirmed with in vitro and in vivo investigations, using several omics approaches that allowed the identification of important molecular actors, such as surface proteins, short-chain fatty acids and bifidogenic factors. The diversity within the species was shown to be an important aspect to take into consideration, since many of these properties were strain-dependent. New studies should dive further into the molecular mechanisms related to the beneficial properties of this species and of its products, while considering the complexities of strain diversity and the interactions with the host and its microbiota. This chapter reviews current knowledge on the possible impact of P. freudenreichii on human health.
Part of the book: Prebiotics and Probiotics