Nowadays, the oral use of probiotics is widespread. However, the safety profile with the use of live probiotics is still a matter of debate. Main risks include: Cases of systemic infections due to translocation, particularly in vulnerable patients and pediatric populations; acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes; or interference with gut colonization in neonates. To avoid these risks, there is an increasing interest in non-viable microorganisms or microbial cell extracts to be used as probiotics, mainly heat-killed (including tyndallized) probiotic bacteria (lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria). Heat-treated probiotic cells, cell-free supernatants, and purified key components are able to confer beneficial effects, mainly immunomodulatory effects, protection against enteropathogens, and maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity. At the clinical level, products containing tyndallized probiotic strains have had a role in gastrointestinal diseases, including bloating and infantile coli—in combination with mucosal protectors—and diarrhea. Heat-inactivated probiotics could also have a role in the management of dermatological or respiratory allergic diseases. The reviewed data indicate that heat-killed bacteria or their fractions or purified components have key probiotic effects, with advantages versus live probiotics (mainly their safety profile), positioning them as interesting strategies for the management of common prevalent conditions in a wide variety of patients´ characteristics.
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