The Yakult group in Europe held its 9th International Yakult Symposium in Het Pand in Ghent, Belgium

On April 19 and 20, two hundred scientists from 15 countries and 4 continents shared their scientific interest in probiotics, during the 9th edition of the Yakult International Symposium, entitled ‘The role of probiotics on the roadmap to a healthy microbiota’.

This edition sought to answer fundamental questions like: what a “normal” or “healthy” gut microbiota is. Can host genetics shape the gut microbiota? How important is epigenetics in this, and can we transfer these properties or experiences to our children?

The program, however, also tried to give answers to more practical issues: How do bacteriophages interact with and / or control probiotics? Can we predict probiotic efficacy using simplified research models? Can a probiotic influence students’ performance under exam pressure?

The speakers provided a diverse program which included different fundamental and clinical studies. Their contributions could be categorized in three main topics.


  1. You and your microbes.

The importance of the microbiota for health depends on the microbes, their phages and the interaction with your body. Prof Colin Hill and Prof Cisca Wijmenga discussed the intricate relationship between our microorganisms, including the impact of phages. Prof Jan Wehkamp and Prof Torsten Plösch highlighted the host factor by discussing the importance of the barrier and the epigenetic mechanisms, respectively.

  1. The implication of microbiota in disease.

Some examples illustrated the importance of the microbiota in disease and stress. Prof Ina Bergheim, Dr Jane Macnaughtan and Prof Patrice Cani focused on the impact of the microbiota on metabolic diseases. Prof Julian Marchesi highlighted the link between microbiota and cancer and Prof Kensei Nishida presented his findings on stress and the gut brain axis, using Lactobacillus casei Shirota.

  1. Interventions on the gut microbiota.

Probiotics are part of a healthy diet. Why is that? What are the underlying mechanisms of action? Prof Maria Rescigno and Dr. Masanobu Nanno dived into the basic immune effects of some probiotics, while Prof Paul Wilmes and Prof Tom Van de Wiele explored the use of specific gut model approaches to assess food intervention efficacity. Finally, Prof Sarah Lebeer concluded with an overall summary of known mechanisms.


In line with the symposium title “The role of probiotics on the roadmap to a healthy microbiota”, the key messages were on the important role of the microbiota in health and disease and the possible impact by probiotics, as illustrated by results of recent clinical trials.

For 200 scientists the forum offered, besides new insights in recent developments, a place for debate and networking, preparing their next research proposals that will seek to answer the new questions that were raised during these two days…

Yakult Europe B.V. is a subsidiary of Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. and is the headquarters and production location for the Yakult Group in Europe, build in 1993 and operational since 1994. Today, Yakult is available in the following EU countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

In Europe, Yakult has 6 sales and marketing companies situated in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom and Italy and 5 science departments (in all but Austria).