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Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Mar 31;123(1-2):159-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.12.022. Epub 2008 Jan 4.

Immunomodulatory and cytotoxic effects of various Lactococcus strains on the murine macrophage cell line J774.1.

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National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, 2 Ikenodai, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki 305-0901, Japan.


In a series of in vitro culture experiments using the murine macrophage-like cell line, J774.1, we investigated the ability of 46 different Lactococcus lactis strains to induce production of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. The extent of induction of IL-6, IL-12 and TNF-alpha was strain-specific and was not related to subspecies, biovariety, or the source of the isolate. When incubated with a high concentration of viable cells of some lactococcal strains, J774.1 cells hardly produced cytokines in which case the percentage of J774.1 cells that were double-stained with the apoptosis probe FITC-labeled annexin V and propidium iodide was significantly increased. This finding suggests that perturbation of cytokine induction is due to the cytotoxic effects of these strains. On the other hand, when incubated with living cells of other strains, even at a high concentration, J774.1 cells produced IL-6, IL-12 and TNF-alpha. In these cases, FITC-labeled annexin V interacted with these cells, suggesting that incubation with these strains causes phosphatidylserine to be exposed at the cell surface. The ability of these strains to induce TNF-alpha, but not IL-6 and IL-12, was lost after heat treatment, suggesting that the stimulus required for TNF-alpha induction is heat sensitive and is different from those required for IL-6 and IL-12 induction. The specificity of cytokine induction by different lactococci is discussed in terms of interaction of non-pathogenic bacteria with macrophages, as well as the implications for the use of lactococci as probiotics.

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