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Immunol Cell Biol. 2000 Feb;78(1):67-73.

Modulating immune responses with probiotic bacteria.

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Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research, Kunitachi-shi, Tokyo, Japan.


For many years, probiotic bacteria have been known to confer health benefits to the consumer. One possible mechanism for this may be the ability of probiotic bacteria to modulate immune responses. Oral administration of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS) has been found to enhance innate immunity by stimulating the activity of splenic NK cells. Oral feeding with killed LcS was able to stimulate the production of Th1 cytokines, resulting in repressed production of IgE antibodies against Ovalbumin in experimental mice. The ability to switch mucosal immune responses towards Th1 with probiotic bacteria provides a strategy for treatment of allergic disorders. Growth of Meth A tumour cells in the lungs was also inhibited by intrapleural injection of LcS. Oral administration of other probiotic bacteria, such as Streptococcus thermophilus (St), Lactobacillus fermentum (Lf) and yeast (Y), elicited different immune responses. Mice that were prefed yeast or Lf followed by feeding with ovalbumin (OVA) responded better to vaccination with OVA than mice not given either probiotic or OVA or mice that had been prefed only OVA. However, antibody responses were significantly suppressed in response to vaccination with OVA in mice that had been prefed yeast followed by yeast and OVA as well as mice prefed Lf followed by Lf and OVA. Prefeeding St followed by OVA feeding enhanced cellular immune responses against ovalbumin. In contrast, mice prefed St followed by St + OVA were hyporesponsive against OVA. While antigen feeding alone appears to prime for an immune response, cofeeding antigen with probiotic bacteria can suppress both antibody and cellular immune responses and may provide an efficacious protocol to attenuate autoimmune diseases, such as experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, by jointly dosing with myelin basic protein and probiotic bacteria.

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