This study reports novel food-grade granules for co-delivery of L. plantarum 299v and a standardized extract of Olea europaea leaves (Phenolea®) as oral carrier of probiotics and hydroxytyrosol. Different granule formulations containing either L. plantarum 299v (Lac), or the olive leave extract (Phe) or their combination (Lac-Phe) have been successfully produced through wet granulation employing excipients generally regarded as safe as granulating/binding agents. L. plantarum cells withstood the manufacturing process and were stable upon storage at 4 °C for more than 6 months. In vitro dissolution studies in simulated gastro-intestinal fluids showed the capability of the granules to rapidly dissolve and deliver both olive leave phenols and living L. plantarum cells. In simulated digestion conditions, Lac and Lac-Phe granules protected L. plantarum against the harsh environment of the gastro–intestinal tract. Co-administration of Lac and Phe oral granules to healthy mice provided for higher amounts of hydroxytyrosol in urines as compared to Phe granules alone, suggesting that L. plantarum 299v boosted in vivo conversion of oleuropein to hydroxytyrosol. On the other hand, PCR-assisted profiling of the Lactobacillus population in faeces obtained from mice treated with Lac or Lac plus Phe confirmed that the probiotic arrived alive to colon and was there able to exert a sort of perturbing effect on the climax colonic microflora. Overall, these results pave the way towards the development of a nutraceutical useful for combined delivery of bioactive hydroxytyrosol and probiotics to colon site.
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