Background: While there are a variety of identifiable causes of constipation, even idiopathic constipation has different possible mechanisms. Sennosides, the main laxative constituents of Daio, an ancient Kampo medicine, are prodrugs that are converted to an active principle, rheinanthrone, by intestinal microbiota. In this study, we aimed to determine the sennoside hydrolysis ability of lactic acid bacterial strains and bifidobacteria in the intestine and to investigate their effect on intestinal peristalsis in mice. Methodology/Principal Findings: A total of 88 lactic acid bacterial strains and 47 bifidobacterial strains were evaluated for their ability to hydrolyze sennosides. Our results revealed that 4 strains, all belonging to the genus Bifidobacterium, had strong sennoside hydrolysis ability, exhibiting a decrease of >70% of sennoside content. By thin-layer chromatography analysis, rheinanthrone was detected in the medium cultured with B. pseudocatenulatum LKM10070 and B. animalis subsp. lactis LKM512. The fecal sennoside contents significantly (P<0.001) decreased upon oral administration of these strains as compared with the control. Intestinal peristalsis activity was measured by the moved distance of the charcoal powder administered orally. The distance travelled by the charcoal powder in LKM512-treated mice was significantly longer than that of control (P<0.05). Intestinal microbiota were analysed by real-time PCR and terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism. The diversity of the intestinal microbiota was reduced by kanamycin treatment and the diversity was not recovered by LKM512 treatment. Conclusion/Significance: We demonstrated that intestinal peristalsis was promoted by rheinanthrone produced by hydrolysis of sennoside by strain LKM512 and LKM10070.
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