Cell viability in probiotic preparations is traditionally assessed by the plate count technique. Additionally, fluorescent staining combined with epifluorescence microscopy or flow cytometry has been developed for the viability assessment, but the currently available assays are either laborious or require highly sophisticated equipment. The aim of this study was to investigate the applicability of a microplate scale fluorochrome assay for predicting the cell state of freeze-dried Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis preparations. In addition to viability assessment with LIVE/DEAD® BacLight™ Bacterial Viability Kit, DiBAC4(3) stain was used for the kinetic measurement of changes in bifidobacterial cell membrane functions during exposure to low pH. The microplate scale fluorochrome assay results on the viability and cell numbers of probiotic preparations correlated well with the results obtained with the culture-based technique and (with few exceptions) with epifluorescence microscopy. The assay was applicable also for the viability assessment of stressed (acid-treated) cells provided that the cell density in treatments was adjusted to the optimal measurement level of the fluorometer. The microplate scale fluorochrome assay offers a rapid and robust tool for the viability assessment of probiotic preparations, and enables also kinetic measurements.
- fluorescent stain