Despite clinical and research interest in the health implications of the conjugation of linoleic acid (LA) by bifidobacteria, the detailed metabolic pathway and physiological reasons underlying the process remain unclear. This research aimed to investigate, at the molecular level, how LA affects the metabolism of Bifidobacterium breve DSM 20213 as a model for the well-known LA conjugation phenotype of this species. The mechanisms involved and the meaning of the metabolic changes caused by LA to B. breve DSM 20213 are unclear due to the lack of comprehensive information regarding the responses of B. breve DSM 20213 under different environmental conditions. Therefore, for the first time, an untargeted metabolomics-based approach was used to depict the main changes in the metabolic profiles of B. breve DSM 20213. Both supervised and unsupervised statistical methods applied to the untargeted metabolomic data allowed confirming the metabolic changes of B. breve DSM 20213 when exposed to LA. In particular, alterations to the amino-acid, carbohydrate and fatty-acid biosynthetic pathways were observed at the stationary phase of growth curve. Among others, significant up-regulation trends were detected for aromatic (such as tyrosine and tryptophan) and sulfur amino acids (i.e., methionine and cysteine). Besides confirming the conjugation of LA, metabolomics suggested a metabolic reprogramming during the whole growth curve and an imbalance in redox status following LA exposure. Such redox stress resulted in the down-accumulation of peroxide scavengers such as low-molecular-weight thiols (glutathione- and mycothiol-related compounds) and ascorbate precursors, together with the up-accumulation of oxidized (hydroxy- and epoxy-derivatives) forms of fatty acids. Consistently, growth was reduced and the levels of the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde were higher in LA-exposed B. breve DSM 20213 than in the control.
- bacteria stress