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Age (Dordr). 2013 Aug;35(4):1311-26. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9434-6. Epub 2012 May 30.

Oral supplementation with Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481 enhances systemic immunity in elderly subjects.

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Immunology Department, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, 33006, Oviedo, Spain.


Throughout life, there is an aging of the immune system that causes impairment of its defense capability. Prevention or delay of this deterioration is considered crucial to maintain general health and increase longevity. We evaluated whether dietary supplementation with Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481 could enhance the immune response in the elderly. This multi-center, double-blind, and placebo controlled study enrolled 61 elderly volunteers who were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or probiotics. Each capsule of probiotics contained at least 3 × 10(7)  L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481. Individuals in the study were administered three capsules per day for 6 months. Blood samples were obtained at baseline (time 0), end of month 3, and month 6. We characterized cell subpopulations, measured cytokines by flow cytometry, quantified T cell receptor excision circle (TREC) by real-time PCR (RT-PCR), and determined human β-defensin-2 (hBD-2) concentrations and human cytomegalovirus (CMV) titers by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Elderly responded to the intake of probiotic with an increase in the percentage of NK cells, an improvement in the parameters defining the immune risk profile (IRP), and an increase in the T cell subsets that are less differentiated. The probiotic group also showed decreased concentrations of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 but increased antimicrobial peptide hBD-2. These effects disappeared within 6 months of stopping the probiotic intake. Immunomodulation induced by L. delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481 could favor the maintenance of an adequate immune response, mainly by slowing the aging of the T cell subpopulations and increasing the number of immature T cells which are potential responders to new antigens.

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