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Int Immunopharmacol. 2001 May;1(5):891-901.

Anti-allergy properties of fermented foods: an important immunoregulatory mechanism of lactic acid bacteria?

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Milk and Health Research Centre, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Clinical reports have suggested that dietary consumption of fermented foods, such as yogurt, can alleviate some of the symptoms of atopy and might also reduce the development of allergies, possibly via a mechanism of immune regulation. Controlled studies have indicated that consumption of fermented milk cultures containing lactic acid bacteria (LAB) can enhance production of Type I and Type II interferons at the systemic level. In animal models, LAB have been shown to promote interferon expression, and to reduce allergen-stimulated production of IL-4 and IL-5 in some cases. Recent results have shown that LAB are potent inducers of pro-interferon monokines (IL-12 and IL-18), and that cytokine secretion is stimulated by the interaction of Gram-positive cell wall components with surface receptors of mononuclear phagocytes, via NF-kappa B and STAT signalling pathways. However, it is clear that the extent and quality of LAB-induced immunoregulation is strain-dependent. This review discusses the clinical and laboratory evidence for anti-allergy properties of fermented foods, and proposes a model for the mechanism by which some well-defined strains of immunoregulatory LAB might down-regulate a Th2 allergic phenotype.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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